The Nets recorded one of their best wins of the season the first time they met the 76ers on Jan. 31, but they got steamrollered in the rematch by a young team that shows signs of growing into an Eastern Conference power.
The 76ers made 19 of their first 23 field-goal attempts and held the Nets to a mere three fourth-quarter field goals on their way to a 120-97 rout on Sunday night at Barclays Center.
It was the Nets’ 17th loss in their past 20 games. The 76ers put it away with a 17-3 run to open the fourth quarter, building a 27-point lead and holding the Nets without a field goal until Nik Stauskas hit a three-pointer with 4:26 left.
“Globally, they dominated us in every fashion,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I don’t think there was an aspect of the game tonight where they didn’t dominate. They really got after us defensively, and offensively, we couldn’t stop them.
“For some reason — and that’s on me — we didn’t have it tonight. They dominated us at every position, at the coach position also. They played a great game.”
Joel Embiid had 21 points to lead eight players in double figures for the 76ers (36-29). Robert Covington added 19, Dario Saric 18 and Marco Belinelli 13, and Ersan Ilyasova contributed 11 points and 13 rebounds.
D’Angelo Russell led the Nets (21-46) with 26 points. Spencer Dinwiddie had 13 and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 12, but the Nets shot only 38.8 percent from the field.
The 76ers shot 80 percent from the field (16-for-20) in the first quarter, which ended with a buzzer-beating three-pointer by JJ Redick for a 37-25 lead.
They made their first three shots of the second period to reach 19-for-23 shooting and build a 47-30 lead. By halftime, the 76ers barely had cooled to 66.7 percent shooting (28-for-42) while maintaining a 70-60 lead.
“I think they’re a dangerous playoff team,” Atkinson said. “They have shooting galore now. I knew this was going to be a tough game. We got them the first game and they were going to come in with an edge, a chip. But I think we can do better from a grit standpoint and a physicality standpoint. I thought we were on our heels, and they just bowled us over.”
Russell heated up in the third quarter, scoring six straight points to cut the Nets’ deficit to 74-68, but the 76ers responded with an 18-9 run to make it 92-77.
Asked if he felt the Nets were close to turning it around when they got within six, Russell said, “We just never stopped them. We scored the ball tonight, but we couldn’t get any stops when we needed to. They got to the free-throw line to kind of slow our run down. We’ve just got to be better.”
The 76ers’ 17-3 run to start the fourth quarter blew it open.
Describing the Nets’ problems scoring, Russell said, “I think that comes down to us missing shots or not getting the calls. That affected us on the defensive end, and they kept attacking us.”