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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nets lose to 76ers, bid New Jersey farewell after 35 seasons


NEWARK, New Jersey — With a little more than a minute remaining in the Nets' final game in New Jersey, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins looked up at the scoreboard and exhaled — deeply.

News photo
Chocolate Thunder: Former star center Darryl Dawkins participates in a halftime ceremony on Monday night during the Nets' final game in New Jersey after 35 seasons. The team will move to Brooklyn, New York, next season. AP

It had nothing to do with not having to come to the Garden State again.

After a 20-9 start following the lockout, a dreadful midseason slump and a much-needed late run, Collins had the relief of knowing his 76ers were headed to the postseason for the second straight year.

Philadelphia nailed down the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference and spoiled the Nets' Jersey farewell with a 105-87 victory Monday night.

"Adversity can send you south or make you forge together and be stronger," Collins said. "I think our guys have done that. Every team goes through it, especially in a season like this, where games are piled on with no practice, no rest days, five games in seven nights in five cities, three games in a row."

Thaddeus Young was the catalyst against the Nets. He scored all 15 of his points in the second half to move Philadelphia (34-30) into a tie with the New York Knicks for the No. 7 seed with two games remaining in the regular season and to eliminate the Milwaukee Bucks from the playoffs.

MarShon Brooks had 18 points to lead the Nets, who will move into a new arena in Brooklyn, New York, next season.

At halftime of the game, about a dozen former players were introduced to the sellout crowd along with former team owners, executives and the mother of Drazen Petrovic, the talented guard who was killed in an automobile crash in Germany in 1993 after the team lost in the playoffs.

They did a lot of laughing and reminiscing in a news conference after the ceremony.

"It's sad being it's 35 years that the franchise was here in New Jersey and to really be a part of that and knowing that it is not going to be here anymore, it's a sad day just for the people here in New Jersey," said Derrick Coleman, the Syracuse forward who the Nets took with the No. 1 overall pick in 1990.

Coleman said he always thought about what might have been had Petrovic not been killed, but at the same time he relished what they accomplished.

Of course, the laughs started when he was reminded of his infamous "whoopty-dee-damn-do" comment, something he said when questioned about teammate Kenny Anderson missing a practice one year.

"I was just talking to Kenny about that earlier, and I told him: 'I was sticking up for you' so I blame him all the time. It was the first thing that popped into my mind," Coleman said.

Anderson shook his head when asked about the topic.

"What do you want me to say about that, I missed practice 20-something years ago," said Anderson, who is a high school coach in Florida. "I missed practice and then Derrick said 'Whoopty-dee-damn-do.' It was a joke but everybody brings it up."

Micheal Ray Richardson was a little upset long-time owner Joe Taub didn't attend.

"If anybody should have been here, it was him," Richardson said. "He worked so hard to get an NBA franchise here."

Richardson said Taub is upset with the team leaving the state.

"To see it go is kind of rough," said Richardson, who said he talks to Taub every week. "But like they say, good things must come to an end."

Julius Erving never played for the Nets in New Jersey. He was sold by the New York Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers following the ABA-NBA merger prior to the 1976-77 season.

Actor Bruce Willis got up in the closing minutes and asked the sellout crowd to cheer the Nets on, while the team left the court to the music of New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen.

Spurs 124, Trail Blazers 89

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan and Danny Green both scored 18 points and the Spurs clinched the top playoff spot in the Western Conference and pushed their winning streak to eight.

Wesley Matthews had 24 points for Portland, which lost its sixth straight and has one game left in a tumultuous season.

Wizards 101, Bobcats 73

In Washington, John Wall had 16 points and 14 assists, Nene scored 18 points and Jan Vesely had 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting as the Wizards handed Charlotte its 21st straight loss.

If the Bobcats (7-57) lose their final two games, they will finish with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

Pacers 103, Pistons 97

In Indianapolis, Paul George scored 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter for Indiana.

Greg Monroe scored 18 points, Brandon Knight had 16 and Tayshaun Prince added 14 for the Pistons.

Grizzlies 109, Cavaliers 101

In Memphis, Marreese Speights had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Marc Gasol also scored 17 points as the Grizzlies won their fifth straight.

Tony Allen added 13 points and a franchise-record eight steals for Memphis, which won its 10th straight at home.

Bucks 92, Raptors 86

In Milwaukee, the Bucks are out of the NBA playoffs, despite getting 25 points from Brandon Jennings in a victory over Toronto.

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