EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- At least the New Jersey Nets' games are getting closer.
One problem: Being close won't help them in trying to avoid the worst season ever.
For the second time in three days, the Nets lost a close one. It was a game like the 81-79 loss to Washington on Friday where the lowly Nets had a good chance to add another win.
"There are no moral victories," said reserve Jarvis Hayes. "We played hard and still got the 'L.' They played better down the stretch. They got the key stops and rebounds. They got it all."
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Philadelphia, while the Nets (4-42) kept pace with the 1972-73 Sixers for the worst record in NBA history.
"It's the same old story," center Brook Lopez said. "We've been playing well the last couple of games, but we just haven't been able to close it out. Things are just not falling our way."
The Nets held the lead for the first half, then squandered the game with a poor third period, as the Sixers outscored New Jersey 23-12 to take a 69-60 lead into the final stanza. The Nets shot just 6 of 20 (30 percent) in the quarter.
"We said at halftime, 'This is not going to be pretty," Sixers head coach Eddie Jordan said. "There weren't any style points. And the end, it was the same thing. It wasn't pretty, but we got it done."
Iguodala's 3-pointer with 6:10 left in the third gave the Sixers a 61-56 cushion. The Nets got within 76-74 with 2:36 remaining, but Iguodala nailed a clutch jumper with 1:28 remaining. Allen Iverson, who had 11 points, made two free throws with 33 seconds to play.
The Nets had a chance to tie with 8 seconds left, but Hayes' 3-point attempt fell short.
"No disrespect to the Nets franchise, but [we] couldn't lose this game today," Brand said. "They do have talent over there and they've been in games. I've been on some poor teams, but none so poor that we had only four [wins] more than halfway through. It's tough. They came out and played hard and they keep playing hard. It says a lot about that group of guys they're not just laying down."
Hayes came off the bench to score a season-high 18 points for the Nets. Lopez also had 18 points and eight rebounds, while Yi Jianlian had 15 points and 11 boards.
"There are some positive signs that we have to take from these games," Lopez said. "We have to take those positives and keep going. At least it's good to know we're there, we're close. We're not getting blown out by 47. We can't afford to quit at all."
The Nets controlled the early action, leading 25-22 after the first period and increasing the lead to 34-24 after a 9-2 run to start the second.
The Sixers got back into the game in the final stages of the first half and Rodney Carney ended the half with a long 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, cutting the Nets' lead to 48-46 at intermission.
Philadelphia took over the game in the third period, when the Nets also committed five turnovers. The Sixers took the lead for good on a jumper by Lou Williams to go ahead 58-56, followed by a 3-pointer from Iguodala, pushing the advantage to 61-56.
Nets point guard Devin Harris missed his third straight game due to a sore right wrist. He said that he might try to play Tuesday night when the Nets face Detroit at home, but he would definitely be back in action by the time the team started a road trip on Wednesday. "We'll wait and see how he feels," Nets coach Kiki Vandeweghe said before the game. "If Devin feels he can play unrestricted, then we'll let him play. But we need him to play the way he can play. We can't have him playing with limitations." ... The Sixers are now 3-0 against the Nets this season, with all three wins within a five-point margin.