Nets beat Knicks again, improve to 7-55

NEW YORK: Devin Harris scored 31 points and the New Jersey Nets erased an early 16-point deficit to beat the New York Knicks 113-93 on Saturday night, improving the NBA's worst record to 7-55.

Courtney Lee added 25 in his return to the starting lineup for the Nets, who are trying to avoid finishing with the worst record in NBA history. They beat the Knicks for the second straight time, but have no more games against their almost-as-hapless neighbors across the Hudson River.

Taking advantage of the easiest game on a difficult early March schedule, the Nets snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the first time since stunning Boston last Saturday. Despite its woeful record, New Jersey has actually won three straight road games.

Brook Lopez finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for New Jersey, which took control in the third quarter behind 13 points from Harris.

David Lee scored 23 points and Wilson Chandler had 20 for the Knicks, who were 0 for 18 on 3-point attempts in losing for the 12th time in 14 games. New York also joined Charlotte as the only teams with multiple losses to the Nets this season.

The Knicks got only two points in 23 minutes from Tracy McGrady and was frequently booed in the second half.

Courtney Lee, who missed three games with a sprained left ankle, helped the Nets put it away early in the fourth. The Knicks had trimmed the deficit to five before New Jersey ran off 11 straight points, capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Lee, to make it 96-80 with 6:13 remaining.

The Nets were coming off consecutive home losses to NBA powers Cleveland and Orlando and are running out of time to surpass the 9-73 record of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers that is the worst in NBA history. This was the opener of a five-game road trip that now moves to the Western Conference for games at Memphis, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Houston.

It didn't seem they would take advantage of the most winnable game on the trip the way they started, when they couldn't shoot and didn't defend.

The Nets missed 12 of their first 13 shots against one of the NBA's worst defensive teams and fell behind 18-4 on Lee's three-point play with 7:07 remaining in the first quarter. Lopez and Harris both were forced to the bench after picking up two fouls, and Yi Jianlian was lost with 2:56 left when he appeared to step on a New York player's foot while running back into defensive rebounding position.

New York was up 16 with under 1 1/2 minutes left in the period, but New Jersey cut it to 32-22 entering the second. The Nets then surged into the lead with a 15-4 spurt, going ahead 43-42 with 4:50 remaining in the half on a basket by Lopez that drew loud boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd. They extended the lead to 56-50 at the break.

It was a two-point game early in the third before Harris and Lee combined for 12 points in a 14-4 burst, highlighted by a nifty scoop layup from Harris, that extended the lead to 70-58 midway through the period.