Nets shut down Clippers in fourth, win 86-76
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By BRIAN MAHONEY
NEW YORK (AP) The Brooklyn Nets gave up enough dunks and dishes in the first half, then decided to toughen up.
Even they were impressed with the way they grounded the Clippers' high flyers.
Brook Lopez had 26 points, including consecutive baskets during the decisive stretch, and Brooklyn shut down Los Angeles in the fourth quarter for an 86-76 victory Friday night.
"It was impressive," Lopez said. "I was talking to MarShon (Brooks) on the bench, I was like, `Man, we're just getting stop after stop.' And you know we started converting on the other end, and that was huge for us."
Brooklyn outscored Los Angeles 23-13 during a final period in which Paul had no points, one assist, two turnovers and six fouls. Deron Williams didn't have a great game either, but he improved to 14-4 in the longtime rivalry between two of the NBA's top point guards.
"We just tried to make things as hard as possible for him," Williams said. "He was getting in the lane and able to dish in the first half to a lot of guys and we were kind of switching a little bit at the end and putting our big guys on him and just trying to make him finish. And he ended up turning the ball over a couple of times down the stretch, which was good for us because he does a great job taking care of the ball."
Joe Johnson added 19 points for the Nets, who limited the Clippers to 29 points in the second half and got back on track after losing the final two games of a six-game trip.
Griffin and Paul each had 14 points for the Clippers, who have dropped two in a row following a six-game winning streak. DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford finished with 13 points.
Williams had 11 points and eight assists, continuing a shooting slump by going 3 of 10. But the Nets didn't need much with such a strong defensive effort.
They particularly got to Paul, who has trying to bounce back after going 2 of 14 and finishing with nine points and nine assists in a 117-111 loss at Oklahoma City, the first time he had been held to single digits in each statistic in the same game since last April 12.
"You've got to be able to do it on the road. Good teams can. Good teams execute on the road down the stretch," Paul said. "Everybody knows what their role is and we got to do better. That starts with me."
The Nets got a boost from Reggie Evans, who came off the bench to finish with six points and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes against his former team, saying the ease with which the Clippers scored early gave him motivation.
"I know when they get frustrated, I know when players may want the ball and they're not getting it and stuff like that, so it's kind of good I played with them, kind of used that to my advantage," Evans said.
Each team scored just 38 points in the middle two quarters, but the Nets finally got some offense in the fourth.
Keith Bogans made a 3-pointer to snap a 63-all tie entering the period, and the Nets had the lead until the Clippers scored five straight points to tie it at 74 on Crawford's layup with 4:15 to play.
Gerald Wallace made one free throw with 3:58 remaining, then Lopez had consecutive baskets to make it 79-74 with 3:03 to go. The Clippers turned it over and the ball came to Johnson in the corner after a scramble for an offensive rebound, his 3-pointer making it 82-74. Williams followed with a pair of free throws as the lead hit double digits.
"The turnovers really hurt us tonight. We have to do a better job of controlling that. We had 20 turnovers tonight. Every time we got a stop, we turned it over on the break or stepping out of bounds or just not executing the way we need to," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.
"We didn't shoot the basketball. We missed a lot of easy shots, but it was really more we'd get a stop or two and then we could never get any rhythm. We didn't do a good job moving the basketball. I thought the game in the second half kind of slowed down to their pace."
Caron Butler had seven points on 3-of-9 shooting in his return to the Clippers' lineup after missing a game with a right shoulder strain.
The Nets made 11 of 17 shots in the first quarter, but missed their last attempt on the highlight of the period. Williams rose for a dunk attempt but Griffin was way higher for a powerful denial with 17 seconds left, sending Williams tumbling back to the floor and keeping it tied at 25 heading to the second.
It stayed close throughout the second before the Clippers scored the final eight points, starting with a pair of baskets by Griffin, to take a 47-40 lead into the break.
NOTES: On Black Friday, the Nets wore their road black uniforms. ... Fans at the game included Nets part-owner Jay-Z and wife Beyonce, her former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland, Billy Crystal and Ray Romano. ... There was a fairly loud chant of "Overrated! Overrated!" when Griffin went to the line for a pair of free throws in the third quarter. He missed both shots.
Updated November 23, 2012