<
>

Warrick, Miller team up to end Grizzlies' 9-game slump

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The New Jersey Nets stumbled on the easiest step of their five-game trek through the Southwest Division.

Hakim Warrick scored a season-high 25 points and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped their nine-game losing streak with a 100-93 victory over the Nets on Wednesday night.

Warrick connected on 9-of-15 from the field as Memphis, the last-place team in the Southwest, won for the first time since Feb. 12.

"I'm just happy to get a win. We needed to get out of that rut," said Mike Miller, who finished with 22 points for Memphis. "We have been working way too hard, and the coaches have been working way too hard to be losing games."

Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni added: "It's not fun losing one game, so just multiply that by nine. That date Feb. 12 was starting to stick out in my mind a little bit."

Meanwhile, the Nets, who lost Tuesday at San Antonio, started their five-game road trip 0-2. But if the Nets were expecting Memphis to be the easiest along the road, they weren't saying it.

"We weren't picking one game. We came up here to win all of them," said Nets guard Vince Carter, who scored 12 points. "I didn't really care who it was. Our goal was to win as many as possible to move ourselves up the playoff ladder. I didn't want to go 1-4 [on the trip], I wanted to go 5-0."

Darko Milicic added 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kyle Lowry finished with 15 points, and hit all four of his free throws in the final 28 seconds to help Memphis maintain the lead. A zone defense helped control the Nets; New Jersey shot 39 percent in the second half and missed eight of its nine shots outside the arc.

"I thought the key to the game was our defensive effort in the second half," Iavaroni said. "We held them to 40 points. This is the best we have had in quite a while. The zone had a lot to do with that."

Richard Jefferson led the Nets with 22 points, and Devin Harris, starting his second game since coming to New Jersey in a trade with Dallas for Jason Kidd, scored 20 points and had eight assists. Nenad Krstic scored a season-high 16 points and had nine rebounds.

The teams were tied at 73 after three periods, and Memphis entered the game 1-39 when tied or trailing entering the final quarter.

Memphis, which trailed by 10 in the second half, was able to take a lead in the fourth quarter as Warrick scored seven of his 13 points in the quarter during the first three minutes.

The Grizzlies maintained the advantage the rest of the way, sending the Nets to their third straight loss.

"Against their zone, we got very jump shot-oriented," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We didn't drive the gaps enough. We didn't get the ball in the middle of the zone that much, whether with penetration or little flashes."

It was Miller's first game back after missing seven games with a sore back, and the Grizzlies' second-leading scorer came out shooting, connecting on 9-for-13.

"Mike has a lot to do with it because of his presence," Iavaroni said of the victory. "I think the team gets lifted when they see him getting off to a good early start."

It was tied at 53 at halftime as Jefferson had 16 points and Krstic added 10 for New Jersey.

Miller led Memphis scorers with 13 points and Milicic had 12, as the two were a combined 12-of-15 in the half.

New Jersey built a 10-point lead on Krstic's jumper to cap a 15-5 rally opening the second half. But unlike many previous games in the Grizzlies' losing streak, Memphis whittled away at the lead, eventually pulling even at 71. The Nets closed the quarter missing eight of their last nine shots and committing five turnovers.

"We took advantage of things [early in the third]," Nets guard Marcus Williams said. "After that, we just kind of settled for whatever they gave us, and we weren't aggressive."

The Nets held on to the eighth playoff spot, despite the loss, but with New Orleans, Dallas and Houston left before they return home, it's going to be a tough road.

"Now it's like we're searching for answers, searching for what went wrong," Williams said. "The next two games are real keys for anything we want to do in the postseason."

Game notes
Memphis entered the game having allowed an average of 115 points in the last five and the previous six opponents all shot better than 50 percent. New Jersey shot 45 percent. ... The Grizzlies have lost all eight games that Miller has missed this year. ... The game marked the return of F Stromile Swift, who played for the Grizzlies until Feb. 4, when he was traded to the Nets for C Jason Collins and cash considerations. ... The opening basket of the game was a dunk by Rudy Gay over Josh Boone, and drew some smiles between the former UConn teammates. ... Nets F Bostjan Nachbar missed his second straight game with a strained left hip flexor. ...The Grizzlies' losing streak was the longest for the franchise since opening the 2002-03 season 0-13. ... It was Harris' third 20-point game in the last four for New Jersey.