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Another ‘Grizzly’ result for Nets

Drop Season-High Seventh Straight to Hollins’ Former Team

January 15, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Lionel Hollins and the Nets can only look on in despair as his former team, the Memphis Grizzlies, taught Brooklyn a lesson in interior toughness Wednesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center. Associated Press photo

The Nets did a lot of things better Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

They placed six players in double figures in scoring, including a game-high 15 points to go with nine rebounds for fast-emerging second-year center Mason Plumlee. 

They shot the lights out from 3-point range, burying 10-of-26 attempts from beyond the arc for their first double-digit effort in that category since Dec. 13. 

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They even held the Grizzlies to a putrid 3-of-17 performance on 3-pointers. 

Ultimately, none of it meant a thing as Brooklyn was beaten for a season-high seventh straight time, dropping a 103-92 decision to first-year head coach Lionel Hollins’ former team before a crowd of 16,516. 

“They’re a very good defensive team, a very good rebounding team and that’s why they’re one of the best teams in the league,” Hollins said of the Grizzlies (27-11), who he coached to the Western Conference finals just two seasons ago before being handed his walking papers by Memphis management. 

The bigger, tougher Grizzlies outrebounded the struggling Nets, 41-36, including a 14-6 edge off the offensive glass, while amassing an eye-popping 66 points in the paint. 

They forced 18 turnovers while committing only nine. 

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But most importantly, they outhustled and outmuscled the shorthanded Nets, who were again without ailing $98 million point guard Deron Williams (rib injury) as well as suspended power forward Kevin Garnett, when the game was still up for grabs. 

“It was different going against your old coach,” Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph said after putting up 20 points and 14 rebounds against Hollins’ crew. “We’ve been through a lot. Made history together, did stuff together in Memphis, turned the franchise around, so it was nice to see him out there.” 

It certainly wasn’t nice for Hollins, who is still trying to toughen up what is looking more and more like a roster of players unable to follow his tough-as-nails coaching credo.

“Maybe we’ve maxed out, I don’t know,” Hollins pondered before tip-off as his team remained winless since evening its mark at 16-16 on Jan. 2.

Maxing out at 16 wins is not acceptable for a franchise that still owns the NBA’s highest payroll, and has reached the postseason in each of its first two seasons here in Brooklyn.

“No one is feeling sorry for us,” noted Plumlee. “We’ve got to get it together and win.”

Brooklyn’s next opportunity to snap the skid comes Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home, back-to-back set with Washington in our nation’s capital. 

“We have to keep playing and play our way through this,” said Joe Johnson, who suffered through a dismal 3-for-12 shooting night en route to only eight points. 

Mirza Teletovic knocked down four 3-pointers for 12 points and Jarrett Jack, Williams’ fill-in at the point, added 10 points and six assists as Brooklyn somehow retained a 1 ½-game lead over Indiana and Charlotte for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. 

Despite their standing in the postseason race, the Nets (16-23) own the second-longest current losing streak in the NBA – only New York’s 15-game drought entering Thursday afternoon’s game in London with Jason Kidd’s Milwaukee Bucks was worse – and are a disappointing 8-13 at home this season. 

For Hollins, who had to be more than a tad envious watching the team he helped build grind down his current squad, the slide must end during this two-game set with the Wizards. 

Otherwise, general manager Billy King and owner Mikhail Prokhorov will have three days to ponder serious changes on the floor and along the bench before the Nets kick off a West Coast swing in Sacramento next Wednesday night.

 

Nothing But Net: Brook Lopez had 11 points and four rebounds off the bench Wednesday, including the 1,000th offensive rebound of his career. Lopez joined former Nets Derrick Coleman, Mike Gminski, Chris Morris, Buck Williams and Jayson Williams as the only players in franchise history to reach that plateau. … F Darius Morris scored a career-high 11 points in a season-high 20 minutes against the Grizzlies. … Garnett should be back and ready to go Friday night in D.C., but whether or not he will play Saturday is up for debate. Hollins has rested the 20-year veteran on the back end of back-to-backs throughout the campaign, but with the Nets in dire need of a win and Garnett getting some unexpected time off due to the suspension, he may see action in both contests against the Wizards.

 


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