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Harris makes triumphant return as Nets hand Hawks another loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Devin Harris has become the indispensable player for the New Jersey Nets.

Back in the lineup after missing three games because of a sprained left ankle, Harris scored 30 points to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 115-108 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

The Nets also got career-best nights from rookies Brook Lopez (25 points), and Ryan Anderson (15). Vince Carter had 26, many coming down the stretch to help the Nets end a three-game losing streak, that not coincidentally, started when Harris headed to the sidelines.

"He's got some grit," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said of Harris' effort on the still tender ankle. "It shows what he's got inside of him. Devin's a competitor and he continues to keep growing."

There were moments when Harris felt twinges.

"We retaped it at halftime," Harris said. "It felt OK. There were instances where I tweaked it a little bit ,but it held up."

So did the Nets resolve, against the Hawks who came in 6-1.

"It was important to come out with a good effort," Harris said. "We had some lapses but we fought through. We rebounded well and offensively, we got to the paint and did what we needed to do to score our points."

The Hawks, who opened the season with six straight wins, have lost two in a row. Joe Johnson scored 30 of his game-high 32 in the second half. Marvin Williams and Flip Murray each had 21 points.

"Give them credit because coach Frank had them ready and we just didn't get it done tonight," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson. "They made the plays and hit big shots down the stretch. We had no answer for it."

The game was the first of a home-and-home series. The rematch is Saturday night in Atlanta.

Harris connected on consecutive 3-pointers 4 minutes into the final period to put the Nets ahead to stay at 88-84.

Johnson's floater with 4:15 remaining cut the New Jersey lead to 97-93.

Then Carter responded for the Nets with a series of clutch baskets to hold the Hawks at bay.

Sparked by the return of Harris, the Nets jumped out to a 14-5 lead. Harris and Lopez, making his first NBA start in place of the injured Josh Boone, combined to score all 14 points.

"I thought we were lethargic to start the game," Woodson said. "We let Lopez establish himself down low. He got going and we couldn't control him or the kid Anderson. Those were two guys we weren't counting on to come out and play big."

New Jersey led 27-22 after one quarter.

Atlanta battled back for a 50-49 lead at the half, powered by outstanding 8-of-11 shooting from 3-point range. Williams lead the Hawks with 17 points in the half, connecting on all three of his 3-point shots.

The Hawks were ahead 76-73 after three quarters as Johnson started to find the range. He had nine in the period after getting only two in the first half.

Game notes
The Nets inactives were Boone (left ankle contusion), Chris Douglas-Roberts (sprained MCL, right knee) and Stromile Swift (sore back). Eduardo Najera was not in uniform because of a strained neck and sore lower back. ... The Hawks inactives were Speedy Claxton (left knee), Josh Smith (sprained left ankle) and Thomas Gardner. .... Bobby Simmons played in his 350th career game. ... The 25 points by Lopez was three shy of the Nets record for most by a rookie in his first career start. Bob Carrington had 28 in 1977 against the Lakers. ... The Nets have won 13 of the last 14 from the Hawks in New Jersey.