<
>

Grizzlies use suffocating defense to get past Nets

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Richard Jefferson's back problems have
stalled the momentum of the New Jersey Nets.

Mike Miller had 18 points and a season-high 16 rebounds and the
Memphis Grizzlies beat the Nets 81-69 on Friday. New Jersey has
lost two straight after a 10-game winning streak, dropping both
games with Jefferson sidelined.

"It was one of those nights," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.
"Everyone had turnovers. It wasn't a pretty performance. We
couldn't get anything done on the offensive end."

Bobby Jackson scored 17 points for Memphis. Eddie Jones added 12
and Shane Battier finished with 11 as the Grizzlies won for the
ninth time in 11 games overall and their sixth straight at home. It
was the Grizzlies' fifth straight win over the Nets in the series.

Jefferson's absence takes 18.5 points and 7.3 rebounds from the
Nets, and while New Jersey players would not point directly at the
injury as the reason for the loss, it was a contributing factor.

"He's obviously a big key for us," reserve Scott Padgett said.
"...We have a smaller margin of error with Richard out, but we
still have plenty of weapons to where we can win games."

Memphis built its advantage with 21 unanswered points spanning
the second and third quarters. The Grizzlies took a 24-point lead
early in the third quarter.

The 65-46 lead entering the fourth was large enough that New
Jersey's starters grabbed a seat to let the reserves give it a try.
The second-stringers could never get closer than 11 in the final
seconds.

Vince Carter had 14 points for New Jersey, while Jason Kidd had
10 points and 11 rebounds. Carter had scored 20 or more in 12
straight games.

"We missed shots, missed layups," Carter said. "It was one of
those nights. We couldn't put the ball in the basket."

The Nets forced Grizzlies standout Pau Gasol to hit only 3-of-13
from the field and 3-of-8 from the line for nine points. He missed
short jumpers, outside shots and hit the side of the backboard on
one baseline drive.

But that opened the outside for Jackson and Miller, who had the
Grizzlies' first triple-double in Tuesday night's victory over
Sacramento.

"We try to help each other out," Gasol said. "We try to play
together. It doesn't matter who gets what. It's just a matter of
doing what it takes to win."

In the early stages, the Nets pushed Gasol away for the basket,
disrupting the Memphis offense. Gasol was taking passes 15 feet
from the basket instead of deep in the post or along the baseline.

Gasol took only three shots through the first 20 minutes,
missing all of them. That lack of offense and 11 turnovers allowed
the Nets to stay close through most of the first half.

"It didn't seem like either team wanted to take control of the
game," Battier said. "We made a few shots and got a few stops in
the second quarter, and that was the key for us."

New Jersey was having its own problems in the half with 13
turnovers and 30 percent shooting, including Kidd and Carter
combining to shoot 6-of-21. The Nets scored only 11 points in the
second quarter, their lowest total of any quarter this season.
Meanwhile, Memphis closed the half with 15 straight points over the
final 4 minutes and carried a 47-29 lead into halftime.

"The first half, I had four wide open ones," said Padgett, who
had 7 points on 2-of-8 shooting. "I like my chances of making
those, but I didn't make them tonight.

"It seems like one of those nights where everybody on our team
had an off night. You have to give (the Grizzlies) credit because
they had something to do with it."

Game notes
Jacque Vaughn started his second game in Jefferson's spot
and scored five points. ... Jones played in his 800th game. ...
Carter got a technical from official Bennie Adams midway through
the second period for arguing after being called for an offensive
foul. ... The 69 points was the lowest performance for New Jersey
this season. The Nets scored at least 95 points in their 10-game
winning streak.