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Nets struggle in final minutes as Sixers defeat them in Brooklyn, 106-101

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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Kenny Atkinson said the Nets simply did not have it. Whatever “it” is.

After winning three of their last four games, easily the best week of the season, The Philadelphia 76ers (28-46) defeated the Brooklyn Nets (16-58), 106-101, Tuesday night at Barclays Center. The Sixers played without Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Sergio Rodriguez and Ben Simmons, and still got the job done behind the lead of Dario Saric and their late-game defensive schemes.

They held Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez to just two points in the fourth quarter and the Nets a total of 21 points.

“This league is tough on any given night and I’ll be the first person to say that. I didn’t play nearly close to what I’m capable of, so I have to just live with that tonight and then just get better for the next one, but I definitely feel like if I just had played better – hit more shots – we wouldn’t be in this position,” Lin said after the game.

Lin, usually the closer for the Nets, gave credit to T.J. McConnell but said this was on him.

“T.J. McConnell’s a great player, I just feel like they were giving me a lot of open shots tonight and I just gotta make them. It’s on me.”

Philly made it a tough one from the start. They led the Nets at half by a point and dropped an impressive 58 points in the half. Brook Lopez was the only Net at half in double figures with 17 points.

They looked to inch away following an 8-0 run, but Philly finished the third quarter on a 7-0 run of their own and led by one entering the fourth quarter. The bench certainly didn’t have its best night, finishing with 39 points on 14-of-37 shooting.

And so, despite the bench struggles, they kept the Nets tied as Lin and Lopez checked in with seven minutes remaining. It was on them and the starters to close this thing out, but they failed to do so.

With 2:29 remaining, Isaiah Whitehead nailed a huge three-pointer to put the Nets up by one. The crowd was on its feet as the Nets finally hit a big shot. The Sixers immediately answered and the Nets went scoreless in the final 2:29.

And that, as they say, was that.

The poor execution wasn’t just in the last few minutes. It was all game. The Nets shot 40 percent and 9-of-32 from deep, while Lin had one of his worst games of his shortened season with 11 points and seven assists on 4-of-14 shooting. He committed a costly turnover late. He did, however, come up with a season-high four steals.

Lopez carried the Nets for most of the night with 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two three-pointers, but along with Lin, he was held to just two points in the fourth quarter.

Dario Saric was the hero for the depleted Philadelphia 76ers, finishing with 23 points and seven rebounds. Robert Covington also had a solid night with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Aside from Lopez and Lin, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (11 points) and Spencer Dinwiddie (10 points) were the only other players in double figures. Lin and RHJ were a combined 9-of-29.

Sixers fans chanted “TRUST THE PROCESS” as they exited Barclays Center. The cherry on the cake.

“You never know what it is. Is it focus? Is it fatigue, fighting through a little fatigue? But whatever it is we did not have it,” Kenny Atkinson said after the game. “I think they deserve the credit. I think they brought the requisite energy, did a heck of a job coming in here and getting a win.”

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Next up: Thursday at Detroit