PHILADELPHIA - Brook Lopez tossed up a soft floater, only to see it get emphatically rejected by Nerlens Noel.
Noel's block ignited a 76ers fast break, and Jason Richardson felt it was a good opportunity for a little showtime. He threw the ball off the backboard so a fast-charging Robert Covington could flush it home.
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Though it was only the second quarter, it was merely one of a flurry of nasty Philadelphia throw-downs that seemed to have the Nets back on their heels. Trying to make a playoff push, they were getting outhustled by a Philadelphia team playing out the string.
"That happens throughout the course of the game, so you can't worry about that type of stuff," former 76er Thaddeus Young said. "You've just got to keep continuing to play, and that's what we did -- continued to play, and continued to stay the course and just grind the game out."
Big shots by Deron Williams and Young and Lopez's aggressiveness down the stretch gave the Nets just enough to knock off the 76ers, 94-87, at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night and end their five-game losing streak.
"Feels great," said coach Lionel Hollins, whose Nets (26-38) clawed within three games of the eighth-place Hornets for the final playoff spot with 18 games remaining. "I'm very thankful for the win. It's hard to win in this league and it's hard to win on the road, especially with the way we've been struggling. It's a big win."
Still, the Nets rarely do anything the easy way, and things were no different against the 76ers (15-51). The Nets, who were led by Young's 21 points and nine rebounds, nearly coughed up an 11-point fourth-quarter lead.
They watched a 79-68 edge with 8:57 remaining dwindle to 87-85 with 3:35 remaining on an alley-oop slam by Noel, who led Philadelphia with 17 points and seven rebounds. And the Nets would've been on the wrong end of things if Hollis Thompson's three-pointer 38 seconds later had fallen through the net.
But after a timeout, Williams sank a huge jumper from 18 feet out to put the Nets ahead 89-85 and restore some order.
"I'm just happy to not be sitting in that corner in the fourth quarter," Williams said. "So I'm happy he put me in that position to make a play."
Lopez came up with a huge offensive rebound two possessions later, got fouled and connected on both free throws to give the Nets a 91-85 lead.
For good measure, Young sank a 7-foot hook shot to seal it, giving the Nets that winning feeling, one they hadn't experienced in 13 days.
"It was great," said Joe Johnson, who had 15 points and was one of six Nets who scored in double figures. "I thought we did some things to really help ourselves, and I think they did some things to help us as well. They took a lot of quick shots, threes, and they missed a lot of them. So fortunately for us, we were able to pull it out."
But don't expect any Nets to apologize for a lack of style points.
"A win is a win. That's all I care about," Williams said. "I don't care how it came, what we did. I'm just glad we won."