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Grizzlies pound paint to give Nets seventh loss in row

Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets looks on

Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets looks on late in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Tony Allen was among the first to make a beeline toward the Nets' bench in the minutes leading to tipoff, wanting to show some affection to the man who helped put Memphis pro hoops on the map.

Lionel Hollins was facing his old team for the first time since being unceremoniously dumped in 2013. The franchise elected not to re-sign him weeks after he guided it to an appearance in the Western Conference finals.

Pleasantries were exchanged as they got reacquainted, a scenario many probably anticipated from the moment the schedule was released in August.

"It was nice. I expected it," Hollins said last night. "I wasn't overly emotional. Those guys text me -- not on a regular basis, but they text me from time to time.

"We were together a long time. Those guys were puppies and now they're grown men. It's good to see them, but it's not good to compete against them when they're firing on all cylinders."

They certainly had little mercy on Hollins and his crew, dominating the Nets for the entire second half during a 103-92 victory at Barclays Center. Memphis had its way in the paint, torturing the Nets (16-23) on the interior to the tune of 66 points on 49 attempts that helped send Brooklyn to its season-high seventh straight loss.

"It was tough," said Mason Plumlee, who had 15 points and nine rebounds to lead a front line that was without Kevin Garnett, who was serving a one-game suspension for head-butting the Rockets' Dwight Howard Monday night. "We gave them a lot of easy runs, a lot of air runs, a lot of cutbacks and then putbacks."

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were the main beneficiaries of the Nets' porous defense inside, getting basically whatever they wanted. Randolph toasted them for 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Gasol had 18 points and eight rebounds for Memphis (27-11). They demoralized Brooklyn, which got only 19 combined points and 8-for-21 shooting from Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.

"We just didn't do a good job of controlling the paint," Lopez said. "We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and they got a lot of easy looks down there."

After the Nets hung tough at the end of the first half, Memphis came out and took it to them right away. Fueled by a 15-4 run, the Grizzlies jumped to a 66-49 advantage and cruised, silencing most of the 16,516 fans.

About the only thing to get a rise out of the crowd was a nifty no-look pass from Gasol during that impressive stretch to open the second half. He threw a no-look pass to a cutting Allen, who banked in a reverse layup to complete a highlight-reel play.

Any possibility of the Nets snapping their skid vaporized, and there's no telling how long it may be before they turn it around, with a back-to-back, home and home on tap with Paul Pierce and the Wizards beginning Friday in the nation's capital.

"I know for me personally, it's tough to deal with," Jarrett Jack said. "You just try to look at the next opportunity you have to walk between the lines and try to turn everything around. And that's the only way to look at it. Just try to look forward to Friday and try to go out there and put out a complete 48-minute game and try to get a 'W.' "

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