NBA News Wire
Makeshift lineup leads Nets to 105-101 win over Sixers
PHILADELPHIA – With the Philadelphia 76ers rallying and the Brooklyn Nets reeling, Nets coach Jason Kidd adopted a curious approach Saturday night.
Rather than reinserting veterans Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett in the fourth quarter, Kidd leaned on a makeshift lineup down the stretch, one consisting of starting guards Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston and three reserves.
It worked, as the Nets held off the Sixers, 105-101.
Williams finished with 19 points and nine assists for the Nets (42-34), and he and backup forward Mirza Teletovic made critical shots in the last 3:08 to fend off Philadelphia.
Reserve center Miles Plumlee added 16 points and Johnson, a guard, had 12 for Brooklyn, which won its second straight, snapped a three-game road losing streak and improved to 32-13 since opening the season 10-21.
Garnett, a center-forward who returned after missing the previous 19 games with back spasms, had 10 points and four rebounds in a little over 13 minutes.
Forward Thaddeus Young notched 20 points to pace the Sixers (17-60). Guard/forward Hollis Thompson added a career-high 18 and guard Tony Wroten had 15.
Guard Michael Carter-Williams contributed 12 points and 11 assists, and center Henry Sims had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“We’ve got to figure out if different guys can step in and help,” Kidd said. “Tonight was a good example of that.”
As Williams added, “We were trying to get guys rest, and also get guys minutes at crucial points in the game. It’s good to have some guys that haven’t had a chance to close out games on a regular basis out there, because you never know what’s going to happen in the playoffs.”
Williams had a four-point play with 3:08 left — a 3-pointer from the right wing and a free throw, after a foul by Wroten — to stretch the Nets’ lead, which had been 21 in the third quarter, from 90-87 to 94-97.
The shot came after Livingston collected a long rebound and passed to Williams.
“Bill Self told me that the best time to shoot a 3 is off an offensive rebound,” Williams said, referring to his coach at Illinois. “I had a good look at it, and knocked it down.”
The Sixers later crept within one, 96-95, on a free throw by Carter-Williams with 1:05 remaining, but Teletovic nailed a 3-ball from the right wing. They were his only points of the game.
When Thompson sandwiched two 3-pointers around two free throws by Williams to make it a 103-101 game with 11.5 seconds to play, Marcus Thornton knocked down two free throws.
The Nets made their first eight shots — two each by Pierce, Garnett and Livingston — to take a 17-11 lead. That swelled to 27-16 later in the first period, on a three-point play by Williams.
The Sixers crept within four, 37-33, on a 3-pointer by Thompson with 7:54 left in the half, but Brooklyn outscored them 20-9 the rest of the period. Williams capped the run by collecting a loose ball and speeding downcourt for a dunk with nine-tenths of a second left in the half, giving the Nets a 57-42 lead.
Williams had nine points to lead Brooklyn, which shot 61.5 percent in the half. Thompson topped the Sixers with nine.
“It’s fan appreciation night and part of our halftime speech was, ‘Why would they appreciate this,’ because I don’t,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
Spurred by two baskets from Johnson, the Nets extended their lead to 67-46 early in the third quarter. Young packed nine of his points into the last 4:08 of the period, including two 3-pointers, as the Sixers sliced the deficit to 81-69 after three.
NOTES: Sixers coach Brett Brown reiterated before the game that he is not measuring his team’s progress strictly in terms of victories and defeats. “We’re just playing the season out,” he said. “We’re playing hard, they’re staying together. They are getting better, and that’s where I get my comfort — the fact that they are continuing to be coached and we’re trying to do our best to coach them and we’re seeing improvement and we’re staying together, and we’re playing hard.” … Nets coach Jason Kidd said he will bring C-F Kevin Garnett along slowly as he recovers from back spasms. “It’s been some time since he’s played,” Kidd said, “so we’ll get him some minutes and then we’ll see how he feels and then go from there.” … Sixers F Byron Mullens (sprained left ankle) missed his fifth straight game.
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