If the Nets fail to reach the playoffs, as their optimistic new owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, predicted before the season, tonight’s game will probably be at the top of the list of reasons why.
The Philadelphia 76ers, who entered tonight’s contest last in the Eastern Conference standings, shot 15-of-18 in the fourth quarter to sink the Nets 102-86 at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers earned their fourth win of the season despite being on the tail-end of a back-to-back in which their return flight from Miami landed in Philadelphia at 3 a.m.
Winning time: A Sixers run to start the fourth quarter gave them an eight point lead early in the half. The Nets cut the lead to four around the seven-minute mark, but Brook Lopez fouled Lou Williams as Williams sunk a 3-pointer from the left corner. Williams nailed the free throw to convert the four-point play at the 6:48 mark in the fourth, and despite there being plenty of time left for New Jersey, Philadelphia pulled away from that point with a 12-2 run en route to a comfortable victory.
How the game was won: Tonight’s game was tied at 66 all heading into the fourth quarter. That’s when Thaddeus Young got the Sixers’ hot late-game shooting kick-started. He scored Philadelphia’s first seven points of the quarter. Once Jrue Holiday, Tony Battie and Williams joined in, the Nets’ offense, which looked disjointed for much of the night, simply could not keep pace.
Although neither team turned the ball over much – just five for the 76ers and six for the Nets – the game was low scoring and neither team got into much of a rhythm until the Sixers’ fantastic fourth quarter. The Nets, as per their norm, had to force shots near the end of the shot clock and failed to convert a number of open looks. If not for Brook Lopez going 9-for-10 from the free throw line in the first quarter, they could have been down big early. The Nets ended up shooting under 41 percent for the evening, significantly worse than the Sixers’ 51-percent performance.
The Nets’ lack of depth also hurt them tonight. With Troy Murphy and Quinton Ross out, and with Terrence Williams in Springfield, the Sixers’ bench outscored New Jersey’s thinner reserve corps 46-23, led by Young and Lou Williams.
Player of the game: Holiday, the second-year point guard, had a superb effort, with 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He also tied his season high with 13 assists and added three steals.
Key stat lines:
- Andre Iguodala: 7-of-14 shooting, 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
- Elton Brand: 6-of-11 shooting, 14 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks
- Lou Williams: 5-of-9 shooting, 15 points, 5 assists
- Thaddeus Young: 5-of-7 shooting, 13 points, 4 rebounds
- Brook Lopez: 8-of-16 shooting, 9-of-10 free throw shooting, 25 points, 6 rebounds
- Devin Harris: 19 points, 6 assists
- Kris Humphries: 7 points, 15 rebounds
One takeaway from tonight’s game: The Nets got good games from Lopez and Harris, but still lack a consistent third scoring option. Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw usually take turns playing that role, but tonight, the duo combined for just 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting. The Nets do not currently have the depth necessary to compete when neither of these two get it going offensively. They, like many Nets, are being asked to fill bigger roles than they ever have in their professional careers, so perhaps more consistency will come with time, but for now, the Nets can’t be sure what to expect on a nightly basis from just about everyone beyond their co-captains at point guard and center.
Notes: Tonight’s game marked the first time that Nets’ general manager Billy King faced the Sixers, the team he served as general manger for from 1998-2007. He was replaced by former Nets general manager Ed Stefanski, who still holds that same role for Philadelphia. Rod Thorn, who was Nets’ president from 2000-2010, faced his old team for the first time while serving in his current post as Sixers president … The matchup was also the first between No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner and No. 3 overall selection Derrick Favors. Neither was a factor in the game, as Turner finished with four points on 2-of-8 shooting and Favors scored two points in 15 minutes of action … The Nets will return home to play the Portland Trail Blazers tomorrow night at the Prudential Center.