PHILADELPHIA, March 1 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson started late. Larry Brown left early. And the Philadelphia 76ers still were better than the New Jersey Nets.

Iverson scored 43 points despite a benching and Brown's second-quarter ejection had no effect on the 76ers, who rolled to a 110-102 victory over the Nets.

Nursing a bruised left thigh, Iverson was benched for an apparent late arrival to Friday's shootaround. By the time he entered the game with 6:46 left in the first quarter, the 76ers already held a 13-6 lead.

"You break a rule, you have to pay for it," Iverson said. "I accept what they did, it's time to move on. I wonder what you do if a player that doesn't start comes late. What's his punishment? I don't know. I guess that rule was made for me."

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Allen Iverson took his benching like a man, and then was the "main man," pouring in 43 points.
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The lead ballooned to 25 points early in the second quarter. As the Nets began to rally, Brown argued a call and was tossed by referee Sean Corbin with 4:38 left before halftime.

"You don't have any preparation time," said assistant Randy Ayers, who took over for Brown. "You can jot down a couple of notes, but coach gave us a couple things at halftime that we wanted to emphasize and that's what we tried to do after halftime."

Neither incident seemed to bother Philadelphia, which shot 61 percent (40-of-66) from the field and beat New Jersey for the second time in as many meetings this season.

The Nets lead the Eastern Conference, while the Sixers are battling for a playoff spot. Nevertheless, Iverson said his team is better and the Nets did nothing to disprove that.

"It wasn't a statement game or anything," Iverson said. "It does do something for our confidence knowing that they have the best record in the East. We feel like we're the best team in the East. We faced those guys, and we were able to knock them off, it does do something for your confidence."

For one night, the Nets had to admit that Iverson was right.

"They are the better team and I have no qualms about that in the first place," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "They haven't been dethroned yet. They're still the Eastern Conference champions. There are still 20 to 40 games left in the season, including the playoffs, for someone to prove him wrong."

"We're in first place but that doesn't mean anything," Nets guard Kerry Kittles said. "There is still a lot of this season left. They've established themselves as a playoff team. They went to the Finals. We have to respond. We have to get out and take it away from them. We have to compete better against them."

Iverson made 15-of-30 shots and 9-of-14 free throws as he eclipsed 40 points for the 39th time in his career and sixth this season.

"It's different because I'm not used to it," Iverson said. "Tonight I was fighting for the Sixth Man of the Year award."

Derrick Coleman scored 20 points, Matt Harpring and Dikembe Mutombo added 14 apiece and Eric Snow had 13 assists for the Sixers, who have won two in a row.

"We have to put this is a bottle and bring this out every night," Harpring said. "When it comes to anyone in the East, I don't thing we're afraid of anyone and I don't think anyone in the East wants to play us."

"We show up very strong when it comes to the big games," said Mutombo said. "We have to carry on the same way when we are playing the teams that are not making a run to the playoffs."

Kittles scored 24 points and Kenyon Martin added 21 for the Nets, who fell behind by 20-plus points for the third straight game. They are 1-2 in those contests.

"We're not coming ready to play," Scott said. "Mentally and physically, we're just not ready. This is the toughest part of the season and it is not the time to come out the way we've been coming out. We've been coming out very soft and allowing teams to do what they want to do. They shot 74 percent in the first half and that's unheard of."

Coleman scored 12 points in the first quarter, when the Sixers made 13-of-16 shots and bolted to a 31-12 lead. He had two more hoops in an 8-2 surge that opened the second period and gave Philadelphia a 39-14 lead with 9:48 left.

"We were clicking. The chemistry was great, guys made shots," Iverson said. "We got a lot from DC. He pretty much started us off. Everybody else just worked around him."

The Nets closed to 58-43 at halftime and scored the first two baskets of the third quarter before the Sixers quickly rebuilt the lead to 20 points. New Jersey inched within 100-93 with 2:52 to play before baskets by Coleman and Harpring sealed it.

Rookie Richard Jefferson scored 19 points and Lucious Harris added 17 for the Nets, who shot 46 percent (39-of-85).