Johnson scores 26, Nets beat Grizzlies 97-88
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)
Johnson scored 26 points, Lopez added 12 of his 20 in the fourth quarter, and the Nets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 97-88 on Saturday night.
The Nets had dropped seven of eight, including a 114-95 loss at Houston on Friday night.
''I'm glad guys came out with the mindset and attitude that we had to leave here with a win,'' Johnson said.
Johnson scored 16 points in the first quarter. Blatche took over through the middle stages, finishing with 21 points off the Nets bench and making all three shots from beyond the arc. The backup center entered the game 1 for 7 from 3-point range this season.
''It was just in the course of the game,'' Blatche said of his long-range success. ''The shot presented itself, and I took it. It's all about playing the game. Don't think, just react.''
While the Nets snapped a two-game losing streak, Memphis dropped its fourth straight at home. Johnson hurt the Grizzlies early as Memphis failed to come out with energy, despite Brooklyn playing the second night of a back-to-back.
''By and large, we eased into the game instead of coming out and playing with a lot of energy and hitting first,'' Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. ''We stood around a lot and kind of got lulled into their game.''
''I don't care about that,'' Pondexter said of the performance. ''I just hate for our team to lose. . It would have felt better if we got the win.''
Both teams played without key forwards. Paul Pierce sat out with a bruised hand for the Nets, and the Grizzlies were without Zach Randolph, who had surgery on an ingrown toenail earlier Saturday.
Not long after Memphis got within 75-74 in the fourth, Brooklyn began getting the ball deep in the post to Lopez, who worked over Grizzlies center Kosta Koufos. Lopez had 11 of the Nets' 13 points during the middle stages of the fourth. Lopez returned Friday night against Houston after missing seven games with a right foot sprain.
''We've got somebody at the end of the game who can close the game for us,'' Blatche said of Lopez. ''That's key. That's been one of our downfalls, not finishing quarters. Now that he's back, we can feed him and play off him.''
The Nets used the offensive punch of Johnson and Blatche to carry a 48-37 lead into the break. Brooklyn then relied on its long-range shooting to open the second half. When Blatche and Mirza Teletovic connected on back-to-back shots outside the arc, the Nets had extended the advantage to 71-57.
Pondexter scored the final five points of the third period, and continued the run in the fourth, his last 3-pointer cutting the Nets' lead to 75-74 with 9:41 left
That was as close as Memphis could get as Brooklyn, kick-started by two field goals from Teletovic, went on an 11-2 run to extend the lead back to double digits.
''Those guys stayed together,'' Nets coach Jason Kidd said of his team. ''No one hung their head. No one panicked. We got stops when we had to. (The Grizzlies) made their run, but we responded.''
NOTES: The Grizzlies are the only Western Conference team with a better record on the road (5-3), than at home (3-5). ... Pierce had missed one other game this season. It was the first game Randolph sat out, although he did leave in the middle of one game to get to the hospital in time for the birth of his son. ... Since Randolph joined the Grizzlies in the 2009-10 season, Saturday night marked the first regular-season game both he and Gasol were out of the Memphis lineup. ... Pondexter's previous career high in scoring was 17 late last season against Sacramento. ... The Nets entered the game committing the third-highest fouls in the league - an average of 23.4 per game. Brooklyn was whistled for only 10 against Memphis.