Nets seek 3rd in row at Sixers
PHILADELPHIA — The Brooklyn Nets will attempt to stretch their winning streak to a season-long three games when they visit the depleted Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
The Nets (18-59) beat Atlanta 91-82 on Sunday behind 29 points from Brook Lopez. It was the second time this season they won consecutive games, and the first time since the 2014-15 season that they won on back-to-back days.
Lopez, who is 60 points away from equaling Buck Williams’ franchise scoring record (10,440), also had five rebounds, five assists and five block shots. The only other Net to total more than 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and five blocks in a game was Darnell Hillman in 1977.
“Brook quite honestly carried us offensively,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We were struggling to get looks and he made some really tough shots.”
Jeremy Lin added 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for Brooklyn, which limited Atlanta to a season-low point total. The Hawks, who shot 37.5 percent from the floor, made just 30 field goals, a season low for a Nets opponent. Atlanta also turned the ball over 19 times.
“I think our defense is getting better in general,” said Atkinson, whose club won despite shooting 39 percent from the floor and committing 21 turnovers.
He attributed the defensive improvement to more “competitive fire.”
“You need to get stops,” Atkinson said, “and I think our guys are, again, raising our defensive standards, getting better.”
The Sixers (28-49) lost 113-105 in Toronto on Sunday, their third straight defeat. They lost Robert Covington and Jahlil Okafor for the season to knee injuries last week, after earlier seeing Joel Embiid (knee) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) ruled out for the year as well.
Ben Simmons, the top overall pick in the 2016 draft, is out for the entire season after breaking a foot in training camp.
“We are kind of just dropping like flies, man,” point guard T.J. McConnell told Philly.com on Sunday. “We are just giving new opportunities to new guys. We have to continue to play hard. You’d be surprised in the month of April what playing hard will do for you.”
Rookie guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored a career-high 23 points Sunday for Philadelphia, which because of all its injuries was allowed a hardship exception to sign a 16th player, forward Alex Poythress of the NBA Development League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants, to its roster. Poythress scored 11 points off the bench against Toronto.
Rookie forward Dario Saric, placed on a minutes restriction because of a sore left heel, notched 16 points in 23:47 and said he felt fine afterward.
“It’s not something that can be serious like some injury that can take me out for one month or two months,” Saric told Philly.com. “It’s just soreness (from) too many games, too much jumping and running.”
Coach Brett Brown told the same outlet that the Sixers, who like the Nets have five games left in their season, want to play hard to the end.
“None of us intend on just rolling over,” he said. “We’re playing with a spirit, which I’ve said many times, I hope that the city of Philadelphia is proud of.”