Nets 97, Grizzlies 88

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Guard Joe Johnson scored a game-high 26 points as Brooklyn defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 97-88 Saturday night at FedExForum for just the Nets' second win in their last nine games.

Memphis (8-8) never had a second-half lead, but when guard/forward Quincy Pondexter hit a 3-pointer with 9:41 left in the fourth quarter the Grizzlies pulled to within a point at 75-74. However, a floater from Brooklyn center Brook Lopez at the 5:58 mark got the lead back to double digits, at 86-76, and Memphis did not threaten after that.

The Grizzlies played without power forward Zach Randolph (ingrown toenail) and center Marc Gasol (MCL sprain in left knee), but they still managed to win points in the paint 42-34. The Nets were without point guard Deron Williams (sprained ankle) and forward Paul Pierce (bruised hand).

Veteran forward/center Andray Blatche made a career-high three 3-point baskets for the Nets (5-12) and finished with 21 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench. Lopez scored 20 and had nine boards.

Pondexter paced Memphis with a career-high 22 points after not playing in the previous two games. Point guard Mike Conley scored 16 and finished with 10 assists.

The Grizzlies dropped their fourth straight home game, falling to 3-5 at FedExForum this season. Last season, Memphis compiled a franchise-best 32-9 (.780) home record. Memphis is the only Western Conference team with a better road record (5-3) than home record (3-5).

A pair of Shaun Livingston free throws put the Nets up 73-60 with 1:01 to go in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies closed the period on an 8-2 run as Pondexter scored the last five points on a 3-pointer and a reverse layup to make it 73-65 going into the fourth quarter.

Brooklyn led 48-37 at halftime and by as many as 15 points in the second quarter. Johnson had 18 by halftime; he scored 16 in the first quarter on 5-of-8 from the floor, 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

Blatche gave the Nets 12 first-half points and hit both of his 3-point attempts. Kosta Koufos had eight first-half points with six rebounds for the Grizzlies. Both teams shot 40.5 percent from the field in the first half.

NOTES: The game marked the start of a season-long six-game homestand for the Nets. ... Brooklyn added one more to the injury list Saturday night as F Paul Pierce sat out with a bruised hand. He joined G Deron Williams (sprained left ankle), G Jason Terry (bruised left knee) and F Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms), all of whom have missed multiple games. ... The Nets fell behind fast in their last two losses, trailing by 16 after the first quarter in each game. "When you put yourself in a hole on a nightly basis, it's hard to climb out of it," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. ... Memphis PF Zach Randolph missed Saturday's game after having an ingrown toenail cut out Saturday. ... Without All-Star C Marc Gasol (MCL sprain of the left knee), Memphis PG Mike Conley focused more on playmaking in the previous two games and handed out 19 assists with zero turnovers. Kosta Koufos grabbed 13 rebounds in each of his first two starts at center.
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