PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson and the rest of the 76ers are
used to the boos that followed nearly every New Jersey basket in
the fourth quarter.
What they haven't heard too much of was an earful from their
easygoing coach, Maurice Cheeks.
Vince Carter scored 31 points and had 10 assists to lead the
streaking Nets to a 101-90 win over the sliding 76ers on Wednesday
The Atlantic Division standings show the Nets with a four-game
lead over the second-place Sixers. The gap, though, seems
considerably wider considering New Jersey has won 12 of 15 while
Philadelphia has lost seven of 10.
"We knew it was important for us to keep them behind us," said
Cliff Robinson, who had 15 points for the Nets.
Cheeks finally had enough of watching his team ignore basic
defensive principles and fail to sustain a full effort, and did all
the talking during a roughly 30-minute postgame team meeting.
Cheeks was typically mellow when he finally met the media, saying
the Sixers were a "work in progress" that would eventually become
the type of team that can make some noise in the East.
"It's us trying to stay together, which we will, and to keep
working to figuring out how to win games," Cheeks said. "There
are a lot of things we've got to work on."
Iverson led the Sixers with 36 points and Chris Webber had 15.
"The most I got out of it was that guys need to take a
challenge to make this team better," Iverson said. "He talked
about during this bad time that we're going through right now that
it was important for everybody to stick together."
Iverson came up limping late in the fourth quarter when he
appeared to knock knees with Jason Collins on a driving layup.
Iverson hobbled around the court, rubbed his right leg, but
remained in the game. Cheeks said Iverson was fine.
Much like how the Sixers collapsed in their embarrassing 104-76
loss to Washington on Monday, they again put up little fight in the
The Nets got a pair of jumpers from Robinson and a 3 from
Richard Jefferson during a 10-0 spurt that opened the fourth and
gave them an 86-69 lead.
The home crowd started booing and heading for the exits. After
making only two baskets in the first three quarters, Webber hit a
3-pointer and a 16-footer on consecutive possessions that helped
pull the Sixers within eight.
Carter pushed back the Sixers with a couple of jumpers and the
Nets cruised from there. Jefferson had 20 points and 16 rebounds,
and Nenad Krstic had 16.
"That was a good win against a divisional rival on the road,"
Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.
Iverson had attempted only 12 shots and scored eight points in
the first two quarters before he finally got going after the Nets
used a 10-0 run to take a 60-46 lead in the third.
Iverson scored 11 straight points and had 19 of Philadelphia's
27 points in the third to cut the deficit to 77-69. Iverson
complained after Monday's loss that he wasn't sure about his role
on the team and what he could do to help the Sixers win.
Cheeks shrugged off Iverson's complaint and said before the game
he had no reason to speak with his star point guard about his place
on the team.
Iverson joked that Cheeks always needed during his seven seasons
as a Sixers assistant to be prodded by former coach Larry Brown to
speak up in the huddle or after practice. That quiet assistant has
morphed into much more vocal coach. Iverson described Cheeks as
"angry, and he had every right to be."
"I've been seeing a different side basically all year long,"
Iverson said. "His demeanor is totally different from being an
assistant coach and the Maurice Cheeks that I got to know
throughout the years of him being here. I expect it because he has
a different role now."
Cheeks shuffled the starting lineup, hoping for some sort of
combination that would instill a much needed defensive toughness.
He benched 3-point threat Kyle Korver in favor of the more
defensively adept John Salmons, but nothing changed. The Nets
scored 30 points and shot 52 percent in the first quarter.
Michael Bradley did grab a season-high 10 rebounds in 17 minutes
-- more than double his usual playing time.
"It's always easy when you get beat to beat ourselves up,"
Cheeks said. "We're going to keep trying, keep working."
^Notes:@ Korver had started the first 37 games and checked in for
the first time with 3:22 left in the first quarter. He also had a
bobblehead of his likeness given to fans and signed autographs
after the game for fans who donated winter coats as part of his
annual goodwill drive. ... The Nets led by as many as 17 points and
made eight straight baskets in the first quarter.