MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The New Jersey Nets stumbled on the
easiest step of their five-game trek through the Southwest
Hakim Warrick scored a season-high 25 points and the Memphis
Grizzlies snapped their nine-game losing streak with a 100-93
victory over the Nets on Wednesday night.
Warrick connected on 9-of-15 from the field as Memphis, the
last-place team in the Southwest, won for the first time since Feb.
"I'm just happy to get a win. We needed to get out of that
rut," said Mike Miller, who finished with 22 points for Memphis.
"We have been working way too hard, and the coaches have been
working way too hard to be losing games."
Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni added: "It's not fun losing one
game, so just multiply that by nine. That date Feb. 12 was starting
to stick out in my mind a little bit."
Meanwhile, the Nets, who lost Tuesday at San Antonio, started
their five-game road trip 0-2. But if the Nets were expecting
Memphis to be the easiest along the road, they weren't saying it.
"We weren't picking one game. We came up here to win all of
them," said Nets guard Vince Carter, who scored 12 points. "I
didn't really care who it was. Our goal was to win as many as
possible to move ourselves up the playoff ladder. I didn't want to
go 1-4 (on the trip), I wanted to go 5-0."
Darko Milicic added 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kyle
Lowry finished with 15 points, and hit all four of his free throws
in the final 28 seconds to help Memphis maintain the lead. A zone
defense helped control the Nets; New Jersey shot 39 percent in the
second half and missed eight of its nine shots outside the arc.
"I thought the key to the game was our defensive effort in the
second half," Iavaroni said. "We held them to 40 points. This is
the best we have had in quite a while. The zone had a lot to do
Richard Jefferson led the Nets with 22 points, and Devin Harris,
starting his second game since coming to New Jersey in a trade with
Dallas for Jason Kidd, scored 20 points and had eight assists.
Nenad Krstic scored a season-high 16 points and had nine rebounds.
The teams were tied at 73 after three periods, and Memphis
entered the game 1-39 when tied or trailing entering the final
Memphis, which trailed by 10 in the second half, was able to
take a lead in the fourth quarter as Warrick scored seven of his 13
points in the quarter during the first three minutes.
The Grizzlies maintained the advantage the rest of the way,
sending the Nets to their third straight loss.
"Against their zone, we got very jump shot-oriented," Nets
coach Lawrence Frank said. "We didn't drive the gaps enough. We
didn't get the ball in the middle of the zone that much, whether
with penetration or little flashes."
It was Miller's first game back after missing seven games with a
sore back, and the Grizzlies' second-leading scorer came out
shooting, connecting on 9-for-13.
"Mike has a lot to do with it because of his presence,"
Iavaroni said of the victory. "I think the team gets lifted when
they see him getting off to a good early start."
It was tied at 53 at halftime as Jefferson had 16 points and
Krstic added 10 for New Jersey.
Miller led Memphis scorers with 13 points and Milicic had 12, as
the two were a combined 12-of-15 in the half.
New Jersey built a 10-point lead on Krstic's jumper to cap a
15-5 rally opening the second half. But unlike many previous games
in the Grizzlies' losing streak, Memphis whittled away at the lead,
eventually pulling even at 71. The Nets closed the quarter missing
eight of their last nine shots and committing five turnovers.
"We took advantage of things (early in the third)," Nets guard
Marcus Williams said. "After that, we just kind of settled for
whatever they gave us, and we weren't aggressive."
The Nets held on to the eighth playoff spot, despite the loss,
but with New Orleans, Dallas and Houston left before they return
home, it's going to be a tough road.
"Now it's like we're searching for answers, searching for what
went wrong," Williams said. "The next two games are real keys for
anything we want to do in the postseason."
Notes: Memphis entered the game having allowed an average of 115
points in the last five and the previous six opponents all shot
better than 50 percent. New Jersey shot 45 percent. ... The
Grizzlies have lost all eight games that Miller has missed this
year. ... The game marked the return of F Stromile Swift, who
played for the Grizzlies until Feb. 4, when he was traded to the
Nets for C Jason Collins and cash considerations. ... The opening
basket of the game was a dunk by Rudy Gay over Josh Boone, and drew
some smiles between the former UConn teammates. ... Nets F Bostjan
Nachbar missed his second straight game with a strained left hip
flexor. ...The Grizzlies' losing streak was the longest for the
franchise since opening the 2002-03 season 0-13. ... It was Harris'
third 20-point game in the last four for New Jersey.
The Grizzlies host the Boston Celtics Saturday night.