The New Jersey Nets took control in the third quarter and
defeated the 76ers 89-75, ending Philadelphia's streak of five
consecutive postseason appearances.
"It should be frustrating for everyone associated with the
Sixers," guard Eric Snow said. "So many things went on, injuries,
a change of coaches and everything else that makes for a long
"Hopefully this team can make a change, and this will be a
one-year situation where we don't play in the postseason."
The idle Boston Celtics clinched the Eastern Conference's last
remaining playoff spot, setting up a first-round series against the
NBA-leading Indiana Pacers.
Philadelphia's five-year run of making the playoffs included a
trip to the NBA Finals in 2001. The 76ers will soon begin an
offseason of uncertainty, with no guarantees that Iverson, interim
coach Chris Ford or general manager Billy King will return.
"I don't know. We'll see what direction everybody wants to
go," said Ford, who replaced the fired Randy Ayers on Feb. 10.
"The 10 guys that have been playing for me, I appreciate all
Philadelphia team policy does not require injured players to
travel, and Iverson has not been on the road with the team since
March 20 in Miami.
Iverson, who has missed 32 games this season, also has declined
to join his teammates on the bench during home games.
"How I feel doesn't matter," Snow said. "What difference does
it makes if it's a rule and a guy's allowed to do it?"
It was only a matter of time before Philadelphia's elimination
became official, and the sequence that sealed the Sixers' fate came
early in the second half.
Jason Kidd fed Richard Jefferson slicing down the middle for an
alley-oop dunk that put New Jersey ahead for good 45-44, and a pair
of free throws by Kidd completed a 30-9 run that gave the Nets a
Kidd, who sat out the Nets' previous game to avoid added stress
on his painful left knee, had five points, eight assists, five
steals and four rebounds in 27 minutes. He spent the fourth quarter
on the bench getting updates on Phil Mickelson's progress in the
Masters golf tournament.
Kenyon Martin, also coming off a one-game absence that kept him
from playing on back-to-back nights, had a team-high 15 points and
nine rebounds in 28 minutes.
Kidd clutched his left knee midway through the third quarter
after planting his foot on defense and then quickly changing
directions, but remained in the game.
The Nets are locked into the No. 2 seed in the East and will
open the playoffs at home next weekend.
"Regardless of who we play, it's going to be a very competitive
series," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "I think we've seen the
last half of this (season) the seeds five through eight have gotten
significantly better. We're still just trying to keep our focus."
Jefferson is on the verge of being named to the U.S.
Olympic team. "They had a meeting a couple days ago, and (team
president) Rod (Thorn) told me, 'Richard, I'm pretty sure you're
going to be on the team," Jefferson said. ... On fan appreciation
day, the Nets drew an announced crowd of 14,796 -- more than 5,000
short of a sellout. New Jersey has had only three sellouts this
season. ... The Sixers are officially listing Iverson's injury as a
"right knee lesion of the articular cartilage of the trochlear
groove." Injured 76ers Derrick Coleman, Glenn Robinson and Marc
Jackson also did not travel with the team. ... New Jersey improved
to 18-6 vs. Atlantic Division teams and 31-10 against teams with
losing records. The Nets won the season series 3-1.