On The Way To NBA Playoffs, Nets Take Advantage of 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers were clearly the surprise team in the eastern conference in a strike shortened season last year under third year head coach Doug Collins. They stunned the heavily favored Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs after Derrick Rose tore up his knee in Game 1. Then they pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games before succumbing in a very physical series. So there was plenty of optimism coming into this year especially after they traded for center Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately for Bynum and the team, he never played a minute because of knee surgery. Philadelphia is basically playing out the string 14 games under .500 (31-45) when they came to Brooklyn to face the playoff bound Nets.
The Nets took advantage of an undersized Philly team as Brook Lopez (19) and Reggie Evans (14) first half points helped establish a 19-point (56-37) first half lead. As a team, the Nets also dominated the boards outrebounding the 76ers by 20 (36-16). Defensively, Brooklyn limited Philadelphia to a meager 34% on 14 of 41 shooting. The Nets shot 49% themselves turning the ball over only 4 times. Guard Joe Johnson playing in his second consecutive game after missing the previous 5, connected on 4 of 7 shots (8 points) still a little confused as to why he was passed over as a offensive option in the last two possessions in the loss to Chicago last Thursday. His backcourt mate Deron Williams was held scoreless for the first time this season attempting only 2 shots.
Philadelphia was down 1 point (16-15) after a Jrue Holiday 3-pointer when Brooklyn outscored them 15-3 the rest of the quarter for a 13 point lead (31-18). Lopez and Evans combining for 25 of the 31 points. The 76ers managed to get back in the game trimming the lead to 5 (38-33) after a Nick Young short jumper. Again, the Nets went on a scoring tear finishing the half on a 18 to 5 run extending the lead to 18 (56-38).
Things would only get worse for the 76ers in the second half as the Nets continued to dominate on both ends of the floor. The rebounding number was an astounding 67 to 34 (24-8 offensive) in favor of Brooklyn with Evans corralling in 24 all by himself.
Said Evans afterwards on what the team wanted to do to Philly, ""We wanted to hit (the 76ers) upside the head."
It was blunt force trauma in the 104-83 win.
Five Nets finished with double figure points as Lopez finished with 29. Nick Young came off the bench for Philly to score 18 points in a season that can't end fast enough for them.
Even with the win, Brooklyn lost a chance at wining the division when the Knicks routed Washington. The Nets however will be looking to lock up the 4th seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Their next 2 games on the road against Boston and Indiana will be tough before ending the year against lesser teams Toronto, Washington and Detroit.