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Brooklyn Nets survive in Philadelphia, 99-91

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Whew!

The Nets avoided infamy Wednesday, coming back from a fourth quarter deficit against the winless (0-15) Philadephia 76ers to win 99-91 in the City of Brotherly Love.  The Nets started out fast, going up by 20 early in the second quarter, led by Brook Lopez, who finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and three blocks, and Deron Williams, who came as close as he's ever been as at Net to triple double, 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

But sloppy play by the Nets and some inspired play by the Sixers led to a much closer game than expected. After getting within five at the end of the third, the Sixers opened the fourth with a flurry, going 7-0 as Nerlens Noel crushed two alley oops.

Alan Anderson played his best game of the season, scoring 10 points in the final quarter and showing an aggressiveness that wasn't often matched by his teammates. Anderson's outburst came after Lionel Hollins gave him what could be called a talking-to, something the coach mentioned --credited for his turnaround-- after the game.

In the end, though, it was Kevin Garnett, the 20-year veteran, who held off the Sixers with an 18-footer, a free throw and a crucial rebound. As the game ended, KG turned his attention to several Philly fans in the stands who had  trashed talked the trash talker ... or tried.  As Andy Vasquez tweeted, it was classic KG...

Joe Johnson played a quiet but solid game, finishing with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three.

For the Sixers, who've now lost 47 of their last 51 over two seasons, Tony Wroten was the bright spot.  Wroten, perhaps trying to get the attention of Lionel Hollins, his Memphis coach, wound up with 18 points and 10 assists. Michael Carter-Williams did not look like last season's Rookie of the Year against Williams, finishing 1-of-9 and four points, fouling out in the fourth.

Post-game, Hollins said that he told the team he was proud of how they maintained their poise and praised play in the first quarter and at the beginning of the third. He had particular praise for KG.

"Kevin Garnett was valuable throughout the game," Hollins said. "But he made a big shot down the stretch, a couple free throws, got a rebound, got a steal. But we need more than just Kevin to do that."

Williams was asked if the team was close to where it needs to be.  He said no.

"As a whole, we show flashes of what we wanna do and where we wanna be, but we still haven’t sustained that for a full game. We haven’t had everybody kinda hitting on all cylinders yet. We’re still trying to figure that out. We haven’t had one of those nights where everybody’s clicking for the entire game, and we wanna do that eventually."

Still, Nets win, 99-91. Here's the quarter-by-quarter breakdown

First quarter: the Nets put on a clinic. The 76ers did not.  With Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson dominating the scoring, with nine points each, the Nets took advantage of Philly's bad ball-handling (nine turnovers) early.  Lopez also grabbed five boards.  The Sixers looked very much like an 0-14 team. Only Luc Mbah a Moute looked like an NBA caliber player.  The only downside for the Nets: Bojan Bogdanovic was again cold and passing up shots. End of the quarter: Nets 32, 76ers 19.

Second quarter: The Nets couldn't keep up their torrid first quarter shooting (70 percent) and the Sixers athleticism started to make up for their miscues. Uncharacteristically, they also started hitting their threes, going 4-of-9.  The Nets also looked sloppy, lazy and slowly, their lead dropped from 20 early in the quarter to eight at the half. Tony Wroten, who played (unhappily) for the Grizzlies under Lionel Hollins, led the late charge, assisting on four baskets in the last four minutes.  Lopez finished the first half with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting while Deron Williams added 11 points along with three assists and three rebounds. End of the half: Nets 49, 76ers 41, meaning the worst team in the NBA outscored the Nets, 22 - 17. Ugh.

Third quarter: One of the most frustrating quarters of the season, and that's saying something. After 9-0 start to the quarter, the Nets looked almost as bad as their opponents. With Wroten once again leading the way, the 76ers came back as the Nets seemed to lose interest.  They were outhustled to loose balls and their lack of athleticism showed time and again.  As the quarter came to an end, the Sixers went on a 15-5 run and set up a dramatic fourth.  End of thid, Nets 72, 76ers 67.

Fourth quarter: It was all Nerlens Noel at the beginning of the fourth as 76ers went on 7-0 run, with Noel supplying two dramatic alley-oops that put Philly up by two.  The Nets bench brought Brooklyn back, but, it went back and forth, up and down. Alan Anderson played his best minutes of the season, scoring seven points, keeping it close in a sloppy, sloppy ending.  When it mattered most, it was Kevin Garnett who came up big, hitting one of two from the line, then canning an 18-footer to put the Nets up by four with 32 seconds left. After a Philly miss, KG grabbed the board, his ninth, setting up a Philly foul on D-Will who put the Nets up by six, giving them a nice cushion they sat on.  Game ends, Nets 99, 76ers 91.