By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
The Nets played their best fourth quarter in a while to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 95-92, at a sold-out Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon. Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson went with a different lineup in the fourth, and it paid off. The Nets snap a streak of eight losses in ten games and enter their Christmas Day battle with the Boston Celtics at 14-12.
Johnson used a lineup of Andray Blatche, C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans, Jerry Stackhouse and Gerald Wallace for a good chunk of the fourth quarter.
The Nets led 69-64 entering the fourth, and it had an inauspicious beginning as Andray Blatche was called for a blocking foul on Philadelphia’s Dorell Wright when it looked like Blatche had position.
Wright hit both free throws, and Jrue Holiday followed with a three-pointer to tie the game at 69.
The Nets responded with Gerald Wallace getting to the line and making one of two free throws, and Jerry Stackhouse picking up the ball on a broken inbounds pass for a dunk to make it 72-69 Brooklyn.
That started an offensive outburst as C.J. Watson got a layup, followed by a Keith Bogans three-pointer, an Andray Blatche dunk, and a Bogans lay-up to make it 81-75 Nets.
Nets guard Deron Williams, a focus lately for why the Nets have struggled, stepped up with nine points in the fourth quarter. His biggest shot was a three-pointer to make it 89-82 Nets with 1:04 left.
It got dicey as the Sixers cut it to 92-90 with 10 seconds left, and Williams hit two free throws to restore order.
The Nets played one of their most complete game of the season, even though they started off in a 12-4 hole. From a timeout with 5:50 left in the first, the Nets went on a 16-0 run led by Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace. They led 24-17 at the end of the first and 43-41 at halftime.
Joe Johnson was clutch as usual in the third quarter when the Nets’ lead was being held at one basket. Johnson had 10 points in the third quarter, capped off by a three-pointer off an inbounds from the Nets’ end with 4.9 seconds left.
Of the third quarter, in which they outscored the Sixers 26-23, Avery Johnson said, “I was very satisfied because that’s been our Achilles heel. For the most part, we took care of the ball. We were so organized whenever there was a breakdown. You even saw one sitation when Blatche was taking up the ball and he called the play or made a play for us because we were organized.”
Johnson led the Nets for the game with 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting with three 3-pointers and seven rebounds.
He was one of six Nets in double figures, as Williams had 16, Brook Lopez and Wallace each had 14, Bogans had 13, and Blatche chipped in 10.
Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson said after the game that it was a coach’s decision to not play him. He told Humphries before the game that his role would be limited for the foreseeable future. He will look to Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans to fill Humphries’ spot at forward.
He might be back in the rotation sooner than expected. He was restored to the starting lineup last Tuesday and that only lasted two games.