MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- This was another chance to validate themselves, their opportunity to take it to one of the league's top teams and prove they're legit.
Even before the Nets took the FedExForum court, P.J. Carlesimo figured this would be one of their toughest games, serving as a really good test.
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And the Nets wound up getting a big fat "F."
Blown away from the start, they were never really in it against the Grizzlies. They were pushed around, let Memphis put on a high-flying dunking exhibition and were thumped, 101-77, in their worst game under Carlesimo since they were clobbered by 31 in San Antonio on New Year's Eve.
"They did what they wanted to do, basically," Gerald Wallace said. "They came out and hit us dead in the mouth. They took it from the opening tip all the way until the final buzzer. They did what they wanted to do, controlled the boards. They were more physical than us, tougher than us. So this was a reality check for us."
Memphis -- which had seven players score in double figures, led by Marc Gasol's 20 points -- pounded the glass consistently and outworked the Nets (26-17), grabbing a 45-37 edge that didn't seem that close.
In the first half alone, the Grizzlies (28-14) outrebounded them 24-13 and had 11 offensive rebounds. The Nets also yielded 21 second-chance points in the first half and allowed a whopping 44 points in the paint, which were as many as the Nets scored in the entire half as they fell behind 67-44. Memphis had 62 points in the paint for the game.
"They had more energy than us," said Brook Lopez, who led the Nets with 18 points. "They really took advantage of us on the offensive end. They kept crashing and it was a team effort. None of us really did our part in the first half."
Deron Williams, who left late in the third quarter with a quadriceps contusion but could have returned if it had been closer, said: "This was a bad game for us. We didn't play the way we wanted to on either end of the floor."
Memphis shot 52.2 percent, including 60.4 percent in the first half, and the Nets struggled to consistently make shots, going 29-for-71, including 3-for-17 from three-point range.
About the only positive thing the Nets showed in the boxscore was 25 free-throw attempts (hitting 16) compared with 3-for-8 for the Grizzlies.
The Nets got within 18 near the end of the third quarter but never truly made a run. Carlesimo waved the white flag early in the fourth, pulling his starters while Memphis coach Lionel Hollins elected to keep his in -- which is customary for him. He even put Gasol back in the mix with 3:21 left and the Nets down 99-77.
"You are up 20-something and we pretty much put our subs in the game," said Reggie Evans (11 points, 10 rebounds), "and then to see you are putting him in the game . . . You are still going to put him in the game? It's like, 'Are you serious?' I was kind of shocked, kind of shocked."
The Grizzlies will visit Brooklyn on Feb. 24.
"Right now, we are going to focus on Houston," Evans said, referring to the final stop on this four-game road trip. "But we are definitely going to look forward to that day coming."