For a change, the Nets were better at the finish than they were at the start. Granted, it doesn't take much to be better than the 76ers, but a win is a win, and the Nets secured one, 88-70, Friday night at Barclays Center.
They ended their losing streak at three games and stopped their habit of fading late, allowing only 25 second-half points and outscoring the 76ers (2-20) by 25-10 in the fourth quarter.
Mason Plumlee had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Deron Williams added 10 assists, although he shot 0-for-8 from the floor. Alan Anderson (12 points) and Kevin Garnett (12 rebounds) had solid games.
"A couple of the vets just said halftime has been our breaking point, so whatever you have to do, do it so we come out stronger in the third," Plumlee said of the Nets (9-12). "I thought we executed. I thought we did it on the defensive end as well."
Plumlee did it after a heart-to-heart he initiated with Lionel Hollins on Thursday. "I just said, 'Look, you've given me opportunity. It's on me now. I appreciate the opportunity you have given me; you've put me in a position to succeed,' " Plumlee said. "It was me taking ownership of the minutes he has given me."
It would have been embarrassing to lose to the 76ers -- and the Nets put themselves in danger of that, trailing by a point at halftime and leading by only three after the third quarter.
But they scored the first 10 points of the fourth, featuring a noise-evoking alley-oop pass to Cory Jefferson from Jarrett Jack (who will be in Atlanta to graduate with his class at Georgia Tech Saturday morning, then fly to Saturday night's game in Charlotte).
The Nets were missing Brook Lopez (back strain) and Mirza Teletovic (right hip pointer), but if ever absences are not an excuse, it is a game against the 76ers, who are deliberately shorthanded in their effort to rebuild through the draft.
"I've said it many times," Hollins said, "you go out there and you do your best and either you're good enough to win or you're not. And if you're not and you went out and did all you can do, you can go home and sleep at night.
"Winning and losing, really you can't control it from the perspective of 'I want to win every game.' Every team wants to win every game. But they don't. But you can go out there and give an effort that's commendable and that people can respect every night."