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Nets roll over Nuggets for second straight win

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Updated 10 months ago on
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DENVER — The Brooklyn Nets’ switch to small ball might improve their playoff chances down the stretch.

Guard Deron Williams had 16 points and 12 assists, center Brooks Lopez scored 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds and the Nets beat the slumping Denver Nuggets 110-82 on Monday night.

The 28-point win is Brooklyn’s largest margin of victory since beating Oklahoma City by 31 on Nov. 3, and the fact that it came against a struggling team didn’t diminish the feat.

“You can’t take away from a 30-point win, no matter what you say,” Williams said.

The Nets have won two in a row after losing the first three of an eight-game road trip. Despite a losing record, Brooklyn (23-31) is holding onto the eighth and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.

With a tough upcoming schedule, the Nets needed Monday’s win to stay in playoff position. They did it by outscoring Denver 65-37 over the final 27 minutes while only committing four turnovers in that span.

Playing a smaller lineup helped. Center Mason Plumlee, at 6-foot-11, was the only starter taller than 6-7, but despite that, Brooklyn outrebounded Denver 57-49.

Markel Brown, a 6-3 rookie guard, had a game-high 11 rebounds to go with 10 points and four blocked shots in his first career start to set the tone for the Nets.

“The court’s a lot more open when we play small like this,” Williams said. “When you play Kel, when you play Cory (Jefferson) we’re a lot more athletic. We can get out and run and that suits me.”

Brown came into Monday averaging 6.1 minutes in 18 games but logged a game-high 45 minutes against the Nuggets.

“I thought he played really great tonight. He did everything,” Williams said. “I thought his defense was great, he was blocking shots, he was active. He was playing with a lot of confidence. It was great to see.”

Forward Danilo Gallinari tied a season high with 22 points, and newcomer Will Barton had 15 points off the bench for the Nuggets (20-36), who conceded any playoff hopes with their moves in the last month.

They dealt away one-third of their opening-night roster, including two deals at the deadline. Coach Brian Shaw said before Monday’s game that the Nuggets were no longer fighting for a postseason berth.

He does want his team to play hard, which is why he shook up his lineup against the Nets. He moved forward Kenneth Faried to the bench in favor of Darrell Arthur and gave rookie guard Gary Harris his first career start.

“We are just searching for a combination of five guys that are going to play hard and play together,” Shaw said. “The lineup change is part of that.”

The changes didn’t make a difference in Denver’s fortunes. Faried had just four points and five rebounds while playing with a bruised left thumb in the second half as the Nuggets lost for the 16th time in the last 18 games.

Gallinari and Barton were the lone bright spots for Denver.

“It’s tough,” Gallinari said. “You want to welcome the new guys in a better way. But the NBA is not easy and every game you have to play your best game. Definitely tonight we didn’t do it.”

Brooklyn scored the last nine points of the first half and then went on another 9-0 run early in the third to take a 63-47 lead.

Harris cut the deficit to 11 with a driving layup midway through the quarter, but Lopez hit two buckets to make it 85-67 late in the third. Brooklyn outscored Denver 18-6 at the start of the fourth quarter to go ahead 103-77.

“In the fourth quarter, I understand when you get down,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “We started pounding them and they shut down.”

NOTES: Nuggets F Wilson Chandler did not play because of sore left adductors. Shaw pointed out before the game that lineup changes, which included Chandler, were made before he was told about Chandler’s injury. … Brooklyn G Jarrett Jack (sore left hamstring) missed his second straight game and G Bojan Bogdanovic (sprained left ankle) missed his first game. … The Nuggets have not won consecutive games since a five-game winning streak from Jan. 3-14. … Brooklyn F Alan Anderson and Plumlee are the only two Nets players to play in all 54 of the team’s games this season.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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