Bucks 106 - 120 Nets
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Harris propels Nets past Bucks in debut

Feb 29, 2008 - 6:07 AM By Carl Dispoto PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) - The debut of Devin Harris was worth the wait for the New Jersey Nets.

Harris provided a decisive spark with 21 points in limited minutes to lead the Nets to a 120-106 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The fourth-year guard was the best player acquired by New Jersey in the deal that sent Jason Kidd to the Dallas Mavericks on February 19. But he had not played since January 27, missing 14 consecutive games after suffering a bone bruise in his left ankle.

"I was very anxious getting out there, I was running a mile a minute," Harris said. "I just got hot in the first half, everything was going in. I couldn't have scripted it better."

After watching from the sidelines in the first four games with his new team, Harris practiced for the first time on Wednesday and checked in to an ovation from the crowd at IZOD Center late in the first quarter. His presence paid immediate dividends.

The 25-year-old point guard scored 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting in just nine minutes in the first half, burying three 3-pointers as the Nets turned a tie game into a 50-33 cushion with 6:02 left in the first half.

"To impact the game like he did was really impressive," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "He was perfect in the first half and that totally turned the game around."

"He brought a lot of energy. As soon as he came on the court it was like he was everywhere, he came out like a ball of fire," Nets center Josh Boone said.

Harris, who came off the bench again in the third quarter, opened the fourth with a one-handed dunk over Bucks center Andrew Bogut as New Jersey withstood a second-half surge from Milwaukee and held a 95-85 lead with 10:45 to play.

"We just have to guard better," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "That's what it boils down to. The fact that the bottom of the stat sheet at the end of the game, it says, 'Memo, season high in points for the Nets, with a new point guard' - that doesn't bode well for our defense."

Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter each scored 19 points and Bostjan Nachbar helped put away the game by scoring all of his 13 points in the fourth as the Nets improved to 3-2 since trading Kidd.

Nachbar scored 10 straight points for New Jersey, which had a 111-97 bulge with 5:23 remaining.

Harris finished 7-of-13 from the floor, adding five assists in 20 minutes of action, and the remaining crowd at IZOD Center chanted his name throughout the final minutes of the contest.

"That took me back to college," Harris said. "I haven't heard that since I left Wisconsin. It's a new start here, so I'm letting it all out and we will see what happens."

New Jersey, which posted its highest score of the season, shot 51 percent (44-of-87) from the floor and made 11-of-23 3-pointers. It was also the sixth win in its last nine games.

"This is how we have to play," Jefferson said. "We need to be a team that consistently scores in the high 90s and 100s and that plays solid defense during the stretch. We have to open it up and score points, because that's the type of guys we have here now."

Michael Redd scored 33 points, Mo Williams had 24 and Bogut collected 22 and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who shot 51 percent overall (41-of-81) but lost for the eighth time in their last nine meetings with the Nets.

The teams traded the lead eight times before Harris made his debut, replacing starting point guard Marcus Williams, and the Nets scored 10 of the final 11 points of the quarter.

Harris assisted on a layup by Boone and converted a three-point play following a tough lefthanded layup before capping the period with a 3-pointer to give New Jersey a 32-23 cushion after the first.

The Nets continued the spurt in the second quarter, scoring 12 of the first 16 points. Harris buried a pair of 3-pointers and a layup and assisted on a jumper by DeSagana Diop as New Jersey built a 44-27 lead with 8:13 remaining.

New Jersey made 10 consecutive shots in the second quarter and shot 63 percent (26-of-41) in the first half en route to a 68-55 halftime lead.

"It wasn't just Devin," Krystkowiak said. "I thought the first half, anytime you give up 64 percent, you don't have much of a chance."

Milwaukee made 11-of-18 shots in the third quarter, led by 11 points from Redd and eight from Williams, to close within 91-85 at the start of the fourth.

Milwaukee had won three of its previous four games but has dropped 10 of its last 11 contests on the road.

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    mrman226 Added 5 roots

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