PHILADELPHIA — There are lessons to be learned every night for the bedraggled Philadelphia 76ers, in the estimation of coach Brett Brown.
Saturday’s lesson came courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets, which held off the Sixers, 105-101.
Guard Deron Williams had 19 points and nine assists for the Nets (42-34), and he and forward Mirza Teletovic made critical shots in the last 3:08 to stall a furious Philadelphia rally.
Center Miles Plumlee added 16 points and guard Joe Johnson 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.
Center-forward Kevin Garnett, who returned after missing the previous 19 games with back spasms, had 10 points and four rebounds.
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.
Before the game Brown said he was hoping for a carryover from Friday night’s victory in Boston, the Sixers’ second in four games since they snapped a 26-game losing streak. He also expressed the opinion that it would be good to see how a veteran team “a dangerous team in the playoffs,” he said — goes about its business as it gears up for the postseason.
“They’re just really disciplined with who they are,” he said. “They’re a big, veteran team that understands where their bread is buttered on different nights.”
Turned out it was buttered by different guys. 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 Sixers later crept within one, at 96-95, on a free throw by guard Michael 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 lead 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 guard Shaun 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, at 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.
Spurred by two baskets from Joe 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: It was the 76ers’ fan appreciation night, and before the game coach Brett Brown took to a microphone and thanked the crowd for its help in “growing something special in this fantastic city.” … Earlier, Brown reiterated 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.” … 76ers F Byron Mullens (sprained left ankle) missed his fifth straight game.
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