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Evans 'a monster' as Nets put hurt on Blazers


Reggie Evans has made a career out of being a rebounder.

The veteran power forward has pounded the boards like a carpenter but has been mostly a bricklayer with his shooting touch through 11 NBA seasons.

So it was more than a little surprising that Evans was one part Dennis Rodman, one part Karl Malone Wednesday night as he put the hurt on the Trail Blazers in Brooklyn’s 111-93 victory at the Rose Garden.

The 6-8, 245-pound Evans matched his career high with 22 points and set a new career standard with 26 rebounds for the Nets, (42-29), who won for the fourth time in five stops in their eight-game road trip.

Evans, a well-traveled journeyman and reserve through much of his career, came into the game averaging 3.9 points this season and 4.0 for his career. He had scored in double figures only four times in 69 previous outings this season, with a high of 14.

On Wednesday night, Evans was in a zone, sinking 9 of 13 shots from the field on an evening of serendipity.

That’s not to mention his work on the boards, including a dozen picked off the offensive glass.

“Absurd,” was the way Brooklyn coach P.J. Carlesimo described Evans’ performance.

“He’s an animal,” said teammate Brook Lopez, who tormented the Trail Blazers, too, with a game-high 28 points in the post.

Brooklyn forward Gerald Wallace, the former Blazer, was a little more judicious with his praise.

“Guys box their guys out and holler for him to come get the ball,” said Wallace, whose stat line included 12 points, six rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes. “We know that’s what he takes pride in doing, so we kind of help him out.

“But we depend on him, not only on the defensive end but on the offensive end as well. He’s contributing real big right now.”

Evans did Wednesday in dominating fashion.

“I’m happy with my performance tonight,” Evans said in understatement. “I wanted to be aggressive from the start, and it just carried over.”

Indeed, Evans hit the offensive glass almost from the opening tip.

“He had three offensive rebounds in the first two minutes of the game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “When everybody knows that’s what he does and that has to be a focus — I mean, we didn’t do much to take that away.”

Brooklyn entered the game No. 3 in the league in rebounding percentage. In a pregame media session, Stotts identified that as a key to the Blazers’ game plan.

“We don’t need to dominate the boards,” he said. “We need to hold our own and not let that be a huge advantage for them. That’s what they do; we just have to minimize their strengths.”

The Blazers (33-38) didn’t hold their own on the boards. They got pulverized. At one point early in the second quarter, Brooklyn’s rebound advantage was an almost unbelievable 21-3. The Nets finished with a decisive edge in both rebounds (54-40) and points in the paint (74-38).

“That was the story of the game,” said Portland center JJ Hickson, who finished with eight points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes. “It’s hard to beat a team when they put up numbers like that.”

The Nets had their way with Portland from the outset, jumping to a 16-4 lead 4 1/2 minutes into the game. The Nets were in front 37-17 after one quarter and 64-41 at the half. It took Evans, who had nine points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter, a couple of minutes into the second period to notch his fifth double-double of the season.

Brooklyn’s lead was 95-69 entering the fourth quarter when both coaches emptied the bench, presumably for the evening. But Portland’s reserves put together an 18-6 run that got the margin down to 101-87 with still 5:59 to play.

Carlesimo brought back his starters, who restored order by scoring six points in a row to finally put the game on ice.

“Other than watching the reserves play in the fourth quarter,” Stotts said, “it was a long night.”

Rookie center Meyers Leonard had perhaps his best game as a pro, scoring 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting and equalling his season high with nine rebounds in 26 minutes.

“When we were getting ready to come in (the fourth quarter) after we spoke with coach (Stotts) at the timeout, we said, ‘Play hard, play together and try to make the right basketball plays,’ “ Leonard said. “We hit open shots and shared the ball.

“I thought we had a chance to get back it. We had a little spurt there. When they put their starters back in, it made it a little tougher. But I was proud of the way we finished out the game.”

LaMarcus Aldridge was the only Portland starter who had his game together, scoring 18 of his team-high 24 points in the first half and making 11 of 14 shots in his 32 minutes.

The other four starters combined for 34 points. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard scored all 15 of his points in the second half but made only 4 of 12 shots from the field.

But it was at the defensive end, and on the backboards, that the Blazers were truly lacking.

“For whatever reason, we just weren’t there early in the game,” Stotts said. The Nets “pretty much did whatever they wanted for the first quarter, and that set the tone for the rest of the game. I don’t have an explanation for it. They won every position and were very effective.

“My biggest concern with this team most of the season has been with our focus. The game after we return from a road trip hasn’t been one of our better efforts. Tonight was a struggle, too. I don’t know whether to put it on the road trip, but it goes to our mental preparation more than anything else.”

NOTES — Portland’s next action is Friday night at home against Utah. ... Wallace on the Blazers: “They’re young. Outside of their starting five, they’re really young. Their frontcourt is small compared to ours. Our bigs punished them down low. We played from the inside out and dominated them.” ... Lillard, who entered the game with a 19.1-point average, was scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting in the first half. ... The Nets won easily despite missing all-star shooting guard Joe Johnson, who missed his second straight game with a quad injury. ... Portland reserve forward Victor Claver returned after missing nine games with a sprained ankle, scoring two points in eight minutes off the bench. ... The 18-point margin of defeat was the largest at home to the Nets in Trail Blazer history.