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Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009

Nets drop 17th straight contest

LOS ANGELES (AP) The New Jersey Nets matched the worst start to an NBA season with their 17th straight loss Sunday night, with Kobe Bryant scoring 30 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 106-87 victory.

News photo
Lawrence Frank AP PHOTO

A few hours after New Jersey fired coach Lawrence Frank, the undermanned Nets had little prayer of keeping up with the defending league champions, who won their sixth straight game.

Falling behind by 27 points in the first half despite clearly playing hard for temporary head coach Tom Barrise, the Nets matched the starts of the 1988-89 Miami Heat and the 1999 Los Angeles Clippers.

"I wish I could explain it," said New Jersey guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, who only lost 10 games in his three collegiate seasons at Memphis.

"There's not really anything good out of this. I try to stay positive, but it's extremely hard to stay positive. All the things going on, it's depressing."

New Jersey must beat the Dallas Mavericks back home in the East Rutherford swamp on Wednesday night — perhaps while playing for the club's third coach in three games — to avoid sole possession of an embarrassing NBA record.

"I don't want to be associated with it," said Devin Harris, who scored 16 points for the Nets. "That's one record you don't ever want to be a part of."

Pau Gasol had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who cruised to their 12th win in 14 games. Jordan Farmar added 15 points as the Lakers made 13 of their 25 3-point attempts, including five by Bryant and three for Farmar.

Brook Lopez had 26 points and 12 rebounds for New Jersey, which went scoreless for nearly 4 1/2 minutes in the first quarter while Los Angeles posted 13 straight points to build a 27-10 lead.

Bryant's fourth 3-pointer of the first half put Los Angeles up 57-30 shortly before halftime. The Lakers led by 34 midway through the third quarter, and Bryant left the game with 4:14 left in the third.

"You don't wish that on anybody," Bryant said of the Nets' skid. "That's tough."

The NBA's lowest-scoring and worst-shooting team lived up to its dire statistics, managing just 60 points on 38.7-percent shooting in the first three periods before a strong fourth quarter against Los Angeles' reserves. Although New Jersey consistently tried to match up on defense, the Nets don't have a fraction of the Lakers' talent.

News photo
From bad to worse: Nets guard Devin Harris defends against the Lakers' Kobe Bryant during their game on Sunday in Los Angeles. The Nets lost to fall to 0-17, matching the worst start to a season in NBA history. AP PHOTO

The Lakers' public address announcer recognized the Nets' historic loss after the game, though he had the decency to wait until New Jersey was in its locker room.

The Nets didn't wait until returning from their four-game West Coast trip before dumping Frank, the winningest coach in franchise history and the Eastern Conference's longest-tenured coach.

Although eight Nets already have missed multiple games this season with injuries after New Jersey traded star Vince Carter in the offseason, Frank was held responsible for the woeful start, which included three straight double-digit losses earlier on this trip. Guard Rafer Alston compared the Nets' roster to an awful poker hand, saying Frank was dealt "a pair of 2's, and he tried to fight."

Barrise, Frank's assistant since the start of his tenure in early 2004, could be just a one-game replacement.

Celtics 92, Heat 85

In Miami, Kevin Garnett scored 24 points on 11-of-12 shooting and Ray Allen delivered the big blow with a 3-pointer with 1:38 left.

Clippers 98, Grizzlies 88

In Los Angeles, Eric Gordon scored 29 points and the Clippers rallied from a 20-point deficit to give coach Mike Dunleavy his 600th regular-season victory.

T-Wolves 106, Nuggets 100

In Denver, Ryan Gomes scored 27 points to help Minnesota snap a 15-game losing streak.

Magic 114, Knicks 102

In New York, Rashard Lewis scored 13 of his season-high 26 points in the third quarter and Orlando won its sixth straight on the road.

Spurs 97, 76ers 89

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan scored 22 points, Tony Parker added 16 and the Spurs won their fifth straight.

Suns 113, Raptors 94

In Toronto, Steve Nash had 20 points and 16 assists, Jason Richardson scored 22 points and Phoenix won its fourth straight.

Pistons 94, Hawks 88

In Detroit, Ben Wallace had 18 rebounds, including 11 offensive boards, to help the undermanned Pistons end a seven-game losing streak.

Rockets 100, Thunder 91

In Oklahoma City, Aaron Brooks scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half and Carl Landry had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets.

Kings 112, Hornets 96

In Sacramento, Sergio Rodriguez scored a career-high 24 points, and Jason Thompson had 22 points and 14 rebounds as the Kings won their third straight.

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