- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: The Nets aren’t proficient at closing games. Not that the last-place Sixers gave them a chance. The Sixers outscored the Nets 36-20 in the fourth quarter and that proved to be the difference as Philadelphia rolled to a 102-86 blowout victory at Wachovia Center on Saturday night. New Jersey (5-11), which allowed the Sixers (4-13) to shoot 15-of-19 from the field in the final period, has now lost five of its last six games. The Nets shot it at just 40.7 percent, compared to the Sixers’ 51.2 percent and were also outrebounded 45-39.
TURNING POINT: Brook Lopez hit back-to-back perimeter jumpers from the right baseline to make it a four-point game midway through the fourth quarter. But the Nets’ comeback bid was short-lived. Louis Williams, who finished with 15 points in 20 minutes, drilled a 3-pointer and was fouled by Lopez on the ensuing possession. He made the free throw to complete the four-point play. Then Jrue Holiday and Williams connected on consecutive pull-ups. All of a sudden a four-point deficit had become 12. Ballgame.
STAR OF THE GAME: Lopez. The Nets’ 22-year-old center went for 25 points and six rebounds. But he scored just eight after the intermission and was largely a non-factor. Lopez, who was 9-of-10 from the free throw line in the first half, had no attempts from the charity stripe in the second half. For the Sixers, it was Holiday who served as a catalyst, finishing with 20 points and a game-high 13 assists. He was one of five Sixers who finished in double figures. Kris Humphries put in another yeoman-like effort for the Nets. He grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.
UP NEXT: The Nets return home Sunday night to finish off a back-to-back against the 8-7 Portland Trailblazers. Like the Nets, the Blazers (8-7) struggle to score (96.3 ppg, 25th in NBA). But they hope that will change now that Brandon Roy has returned. Of course, Roy has been bothered by knee problems, so it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll return to full strength and be the all-star performer he once was.
5dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo