Nets Refuse to Be Philly’s First Victim, Win 99-91

PHILADELPHIA – For a team trying to build confidence, this was certain: The Brooklyn Nets could not lose to a team without any confidence.

That’s almost what happened Wednesday night in Wells Fargo Center.

Despite opening up a 20-point first-quarter lead, and holding a 17-point lead in the third quarter, the Nets found themselves trailing 74-72 early in the fourth quarter. It was time to man up or suffer the worst loss of the season – by any NBA team.

Led by Alan Anderson, a gritty NBA veteran who has played in more countries than Jason Bourne, the Nets fought back to seize a 99-91 win.

They had one off day and two days of practice to prepare for the NBA’s worst team. Twice the Nets seemed to have the game in hand against the winless Philadelphia 76ers.

The Sixers (0-15) will have to wait another day to find their first win of the season. The Nets (6-8) have a win that should help build some confidence.

Once the Sixers got close, the Philadelphia fans, desperate for a win, made it a playoff atmosphere.

“They got all the way to the lead,” said Nets Coach Lionel Hollins. “They had the momentum. But we kept our poise and we wouldn’t go away.”

KEY PLAY: When Joe Johnson missed a 3 from the corner, the Sixers, trailing 90-89, seemingly had the ball. But Kevin Garnett went to the offensive glass, drawing a foul on Nerlens Noel. KG made 1 of 2 free throws. The Nets never lost the lead.

STAR: When the Sixers came all the way back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit, Alan Anderson, who had been chewed out by Hollins earlier in the game, began trash talking with a couple of Sixers.

AA knew exactly what he was doing – sending a clear message to his teammates that it was time to man up.

Anderson then let his actions do the talking. Over a five-minute span, he single-handedly kept the Nets from suffering a horrific loss.

Anderson scored 10 of the Nets 13 points and had a key rebound. He rallied the Nets from a 74-72 deficit to an 85-82 lead. Anderson finished with 12 points, four rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot.

UNSUNG STAR: Deron Williams had 17 points, 10 assists and was a perfect 7 of 7 from the line, including 4 of 4 in the final 24 seconds.

NETS’ GAINS: Lionel Hollins has pulled no punches when it comes to center Brook Lopez. Hollins believes Lopez can be a dominating center on both ends of the court.

When asked at a recent practice how Lopez looked, Hollins kept jabbing.

“The same Brook,” Hollins said. “He can score. He needs to be better defensively; he needs to be better rebounding; he needs to be better passing the ball to his teammates. There’s people that come into this league and their whole life they’re only asked to do one thing. And when you get to this level, it takes a little more to win. I’m trying to ask him to do those things.”

Lopez scored 9 of the Nets’ 32 first-quarter points. Same Brook? He also had five rebounds and a blocked shot. He finished with 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

Lopez is still finding his rhythm after undergoing off-season surgeries on his right foot to repair a broken bone and left ankle to repair a torn tendon. Soft tissue injuries often take longer to recover from than bone fractures.

“It’s getting there,” he said.

TALK: “They’re all NBA teams,” said Lopez. “I was on the 0-18 Nets’ team so I know what it’s like to go out every night and scratch for a win.”

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