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Harris scores 28 as Nets help Nuggets to worst loss of the season

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The young New Jersey Nets are getting over their inconsistencies and starting to show signs they can be a playoff team.

Devin Harris scored 14 of his 28 points from the free-throw line and the New Jersey Nets posted their second biggest victory in franchise history with a stunning 114-70 decision over the frustrated Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

"It's good for us, good for our egos," Harris said after the Nets posted their season-high fourth straight win. "Obviously we feel good about ourselves and now we've got to continue to keep it going."

The Nets (24-27) have posted some impressive wins in this post-Jason Kidd era, knocking off Dallas and Detroit here. Their problem has been failing to show up for some games they should win.

"We can come out and play the tough basketball against the best teams, now we just ask for some consistency," Vince Carter said. "If you're going to be a good team like that one, then you have to come with the same mentality against teams that aren't that good. We talk about playing at a high level, and we talk about playing playoff ball, let's go play playoff basketball."

For one night, the Nets looked like a serious contender in handing the Nuggets their worst loss since a 107-63 setback to Portland on April 16, 1997.

"Sometimes you're one step slow," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Tonight we were two steps slow. Offensively we were slow. Defensively we were slow. Rebounds, hustle points, all that we were slow on. This is the first time all year we haven't had the energy to fight back."

New Jersey built a season-high 20-point lead at the half and extended it to 37 points after third quarters in handing the Nuggets their worst loss of the season, one that saw Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Karl all hit with second-quarter technicals for arguing with the officiating crew.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak and was only the 17th of the season for Denver, which was off to its best 50-game start since joining the NBA in 1976.

"I've been in this league a long time and I know you're going to have three to four games like this on both sides," Billups said. "It's over. We washed it off in the shower."

Rookie Brook Lopez added 15 points and nine rebounds for New Jersey, while Carter had 12 points and eight assists.

Anthony had 15 points to lead the Nuggets on a night that the Nets refused to let them get to the rim, one of the staples of an offense that was averaging 104.7 points, fourth best in the league.

The 70 points were a season low and the final margin was a season worst. It was also only their second loss in 22 games against a team with a sub .500 record.

"We caught them on a good night, but our guys took full advantage of it," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.

The Nets took command with a 26-8 spurt that bridged the end of the first quarter and the start of the second.

Harris hit six free throws in an 11-2 spurt that gave New Jersey a 24-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. Carter hit a jumper, converted a three-point play and scored eight points in the 15-6 run that started the second quarter.

Denver's frustration with the officiating came to the surface in the second quarter. Karl was called for a technical foul after Anthony seemed to get hit on a rebound follow and nothing was called.

Anthony and Billups both got technicals with 26.7 seconds left in the half, with Billups seemingly stunned that he was getting his right after his buddy.

New Jersey shot almost 69 percent in the third quarter in turning the game into a rout. Harris had 11 in the quarter and Lopez added nine.

Nets rookie Ryan Anderson finished with his first career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Game notes
The Nuggets took a train ride north after Friday night's game in Washington. ... New Jersey's biggest previous halftime lead this season was 13. ... The loss prevented Denver from getting 19 games over the .500 mark for the first time since 1987-88. ... The loss also snapped the Nuggets' three-game winning streak against New Jersey. ... The Nuggets previous worst loss this season was 18 points. Denver's previous season low for points was 81. Harris' 14 free throws made matched Denver's total made.