Nets crush 76ers, still in playoff race
EAST RUTHERFORD -- Vince Carter scored 15 points and the New Jersey Nets kept their playoff hopes alive for a couple more days by handing the Philadelphia 76ers their worst loss of the season, 96-67, on Sunday night.
The Nets (32-45) were pushed to the brink of elimination while their game was being contested when the Detroit Pistons (37-40) beat the Charlotte Hornets 104-97, but they kept mathematically alive by getting double figures from seven players.
New Jersey and Detroit each have five games left. New Jersey will miss the postseason for the second straight year if it loses one or the Pistons win one.
Sixth man Lou Williams had 14 points to lead the Sixers, who looked drained a day after beating Detroit to clinch a second straight playoff berth. The loss dropped Philadelphia a half-game behind Miami for the fifth seed in the East. The fifth seed will probably play Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs and the sixth will get either Boston or Orlando.
Bobby Simmons added 14 points for New Jersey, which beat the 76ers in the last game here on a last-second halfcourt shot by Devin Harris. Brook Lopez, Harris, Jarvis Hayes and Chris Douglas-Roberts had 13 apiece for the Nets.
The 76ers had no other players in double figures in shooting 35 percent from the floor. Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller combined for 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting.
The 67 points were a season low for Philadelphia and the 29-point loss was the worst defeat. The previous low was 72 and the highest losing margin was 24.
Philly should have known it was in trouble early. The Sixers have a tradition that players on the bench stand until the team scores. The reserves didn't get a chance to sit for almost five minutes, with Willie Green ending an 0-for-9 drought with a layup with 7:08 left in the quarter.
The other problem was free throw shooting. Philadelphia went 9-of-23, with Iguodala going 3-for-8.
Surprisingly, Philadelphia led 20-18 after the first quarter as Samuel Dalembert scored seven of his nine points and had five of his 11 rebounds.
New Jersey took control five minutes into the second quarter when Simmons and Hayes hit consecutive 3-pointers to ignite a 21-7 spurt that put the Nets ahead 47-32.
Carter converted consecutive three-point plays in the run and scored eight points. Keyon Dooling (10 points) also scored five points, hitting one of the Nets' 11 3-pointers in the contest.
New Jersey led by 11 points at the half and pushed its lead to 18 points in the third quarter and blew out the 76ers in the fourth quarter.
Notes: New Jersey swept the four-game season series with the 76ers, the first time it has done that to Philadelphia. ...The loss snapped a three-game Philadelphia winning streak and was only its fifth in 15 games. ...The 76ers are 6-12 in the second game of back-to-backs. They are 13-5 in the front end.
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