Johnson scores 26, Nets beat Grizzlies 97-88

The Brooklyn Nets relied on Joe Johnson early, Brook Lopez late

and mixed in Andray Blatche to snap a two-game losing streak.

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.”

Quincy Pondexter, who had not played in the Grizzlies’ two

previous games, scored a career-high 22 points. Mike Conley had 16

points and 10 assists, while Tony Allen had 13 points.

”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.