76ers grab playoff ticket, spoil Nets’ farewell to New Jersey
NEWARK, New Jersey
New Jersey Nets power forward Jordan Williams (20) attempts a shot against the Philadelphia 76ers’ Montenegrin center Nikola Vucevic (8) at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The game was the Nets’ last home game in New Jersey before the franchise will relocated to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2012-13 NBA season. AFP PhotoThe Philadelphia 76ers earned the final National Basketball Association playoff spot in the Eastern Conference on April 23 and spoiled the Nets’ final game in New Jersey with a 105-87 win.
Thaddeus Young recorded 15 points in the second half to help the 76ers make the playoffs for the second consecutive year and eliminate the Milwaukee Bucks from the postseason race.
The win moved the 76ers into a tie with the New York Knicks for the seventh seed with two games left in the 2011-12 NBA regular season.
The 76ers, who have an identical 34-30 record as the Knicks but are below New York by virtue of the tie-breaker between the teams with two games to play.
Jrue Holiday and Elton Brand finished with 15 points each and Andre Iguodala had 14 points and nine assists for Philadelphia.
Relocation to Brooklyn
MarShon Brooks scored 18 points to lead the Nets, who will move into a new arena in the New York suburb of Brooklyn next season.
A raucous sellout crowd of 18,711 chanted “Let’s Go Nets” and “Defense” for the tilt’s entire 48 minutes, and it gave an appreciative round of applause as the game ended and the Nets’ final seconds in New Jersey wound down.
“Great fan support tonight,” Nets coach Avery Johnson was quoted as saying on the official NBA website. “They came out, they cheered us on, and our guys just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.”
A halftime ceremony honored former Nets, including Derrick Coleman, Michael Ray Richardson, Kenny Anderson, Darryl Dawkins, Albert King, and 2001 Eastern Conference Champions Todd MacCulloch and Kerry Kittles, among others. Video messages from former Nets players and coaches -- including Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Kenyon Martin -- were played throughout the contest, while the stands were filled with fans wearing Nets jerseys both new and old.
Milwaukee entered the night with a slim chance of making the playoffs, but Philadelphia’s win officially eliminated the Bucks even though they beat Toronto 92-86 in a later game Monday.
Turkish forward Ersan İlyasova scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Monta Ellis added 17 points for the Bucks, who swept the three-game season series against the Raptors.
Spurs cement top spot
Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs cemented their position as the Western Conference top seeds for the second year in a row after thrashing the Portland Trail Blazers 124-89.
Tim Duncan and Daniel Green each scored 18 points as the Spurs overwhelmed Portland to finally see off the Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for bragging rights in the West.
The Spurs franchise remains a master of consistency, capturing three NBA titles in five seasons from 2003-07, but the current crop will be hoping to travel deeper into the post-season of a lockout-shortened season than last year’s team.
San Antonio was stunned by Memphis in a first-round series defeat a season ago, though this year’s Spurs appear far healthier and possess more depth for a playoff run.
“As we showed last year, somebody can sneak up and take you out just as easily (with home-court),” Duncan told reporters.
“We’re glad to have it. We will be prepared for our first-round opponent. Hopefully we’ll get a much better effort.”