NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 10: Lou Williams #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks to pass as he brings the ball up court in the first half against Sundiata Gaines #1 of the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center on April 10, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
The Philadelphia 76ers used their typically strong defense and bench unit to control the game and the glass, beating the New Jersey Nets 107-88.
The Philadelphia 76ers have built its season on the back of a strong defense that forces teams to settle for long two-point shots and then own the glass. This is the formula they used against the Nets Tuesday night in New Jersey as the Nets shot 39 percent and got owned on the glass, leading to a 107-88 win for the Sixers.
Philly started slow, dropping behind by eight points early, 12-4, but this would represent the high point for the Nets, as the Sixers bench entered the game and began to assert themselves in the game.
A strong unit all season long, the Philadelphia bench was led by Louis Williams, who had a game high 20 points on only eight shots. He was joined by Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes, who both scored 19 off the bench and grabbed eight rebounds. Young, Hawes and starting center Nikola Vucevic (eight rebounds) combined to lead the 53-36 edge on the glass. The Young/Hawes combo had eight offensive rebounds as a portion of that advantage, leading to 23 second-chance points.
The Nets were led by the 20-point, 10-rebound effort from Kris Humphries, but the lack of Nets' size inside hurt them in defending Young and Hawes, who combined for 15-26 shooting. It also kept the Nets well below its 29-percent offensive rebounding rate, snagging only nine offensive rebounds among its 54 misses on the night.
The Nets kept it close for the first half, but slowly lost ground as the game wore on. Just as the Sixers gently lure teams into taking long jump shot after long jump shot, not realizing they are slowly getting trapped in an inefficient strategy, so too the Sixers lead slowly got larger and larger, gradually extending until it extended to 23 in the fourth quarter. Philly largest run was a single 9-0 run in the fourth quarter.
New Jersey is short in the front court due to being without starting center Brook Lopez, who is out for the season with foot and ankle injuries, and it did not have Gerald Wallace, who missed the game with a sore hamstring.
The game's playoff implications were that the Sixers moved a game ahead of the New York Knicks, who lost in Chicago Tuesday night, for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference and two games in front of the Milwaukee Bucks. The loss officially eliminated the Nets from the playoff race.
For all of Tuesday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.