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12/01/2013 12:04 AM EST
Johnson scores 26, Nets beat Grizzlies 97-88
BROOKLYN 97, MEMPHIS 88

By CLAY BAILEY
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- 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.

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