EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—The Philadelphia 76ers got their groove back, and not a moment too soon.
Allen Iverson had 40 points and 10 assists and Chris Webber returned from a back injury to score 18 as Philadelphia remained tied for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with a 116-96 win over the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night.
With four games left in the regular season, the 76ers have won three games in a row after losing 10 of 13. Their resurgence has them thinking playoffs as they travel to Miami for a game Friday night.
“It’s been a total effort by everybody, the starters and the guys off the bench,” said Webber. “It feels like we’re looser out there.”
Philadelphia will need Webber if it hopes to play beyond next week, and he put in a strong effort after missing two games with a lower back strain. He shot 8-for-18 and had 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.
“It feels good. It was good to get out on the floor,” Webber said before adding, “I’m glad I didn’t have to play in the fourth quarter.”
The 76ers shot 61 percent (14-for-23) in the first quarter when they began to pull away, and shot an even 50 percent for the game (44-for-88). The 116 points was more than any team has scored against the Nets this season.
New Jersey fell to 1-3 since tying a club record by winning 14 games in a row.
“We’re not proud of what happened,” said Nets coach Lawrence Frank. “I think when you look at it we had four games in five nights, and at this point of the year we knew it was going to be tough. Obviously this game meant a whole lot to Philadelphia and we just didn’t have it defensively.”
Philadelphia will need all the wins it can get since Chicago owns a tiebreaker, courtesy of a better conference record. The 76ers took care of business Wednesday by taking advantage of a Nets team already locked in to a playoff berth and coming off a game at Chicago the night before.
The disparity in energy was evident from the outset, as after a brief New Jersey flurry to start the game the visitors took over and never trailed.
“They’re a team that won 14 games in a row,” said Iverson. “We felt they were going to come out and play hard. We just wanted it. We can go to Miami and they’ve already locked it up, so hopefully we can jump on them the same way.”
Iverson had a quiet first quarter with five points, then scored 17 in the second quarter when the 76ers burst out to a 21-point lead. New Jersey mounted a token run in the third quarter but never cut the lead below 15 points. By the fourth quarter, Frank had cleared his bench.
The 76ers face an uphill road with games at Miami, Orlando and Charlotte sandwiched around a home game against the Nets next Tuesday.
“We know it’s crunch time and that each and every game is like a playoff game for us,” said Steven Hunter, who scored 11 points off the bench for Philadelphia. “We want to show Chicago that we want it more than they do. We’ve got to play with the same urgency and focus that we’ve had in the last few games and we should be OK.”
Iverson scored 40 or more points for the 15th time this season. He reached 40 points and 10 assists for the fifth time. … After giving up 100 points or more in one of 14 games, New Jersey has allowed more than 100 in four of its last five games. … Nets C Jason Collins (right knee bruise) missed the game for New Jersey, as did F Antoine Wright (left quad strain). … 76ers G Kevin Ollie missed his third straight game with a right quad strain … Carter extended his club-record string of games with 20 or more points to 23, tying a personal high he reached twice while playing for the Toronto Raptors.