Nets rout Sixers behind huge effort from Reggie Evans
The fans at the Barclays Center were chanting “Reggie, Reggie” so often it sounded like Reggie Jackson when he homered on three straight pitches for the Yankees in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series.
Instead, those chants were reserved for rugged power forward Reggie Evans, who totaled 17 points and 24 rebounds, helping the Nets dominate the paint in a 104-83 rout of the 76ers.
“[It was] just people double-teaming Joe and double-teaming Deron and basically leaving me,” Evans said. “I got to do my best to try and give the team something. So that was just the main thing, the way the team was playing us.”
The Nets (45-32) further solidified their standing as the fourth seed, moving three games ahead of Chicago, which lost at home to Toronto Tuesday night. They have five games remaining before the season ends next Wednesday against Detroit.
“We got a lot of guys that have never been to the playoffs, so you got to have that mindset like every game is important, not only that but you got to take advantage of the home games and stuff like that,” Evans said. “So you’ve got to have that mindset like the playoffs are now and every possession is going to be tough offensively and defensively.”
Evans was among the primary reasons the Nets did not have to rely on Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to get things done offensively. He had a double-double by the end of the first quarter and had his 20th rebound halfway through the third quarter.
“Reggie has been great,” center Brook Lopez said. “It seems like a nightly routine. He has become so great at making a decision after he gets the offensive rebound, either to go back up strong or to find the open man.”
“Reggie has been playing unbelievable of late,” Johnson added. “He’s just very relentless going to the glass, offensively and defensively. He’s just making plays. He’s a guy that you don’t have to run a play for. So to have those kind of guys on your team, that’s big.”
It was Evans’ eighth double-double and fourth in the last seven games. He was also the first Net to have a double-double by the end of the first quarter and the first in the NBA since Dwight Howard on Feb. 8, 2012.
It was his ninth 20-rebound game of the season and not surprisingly the Nets have won eight of those.
Also helping the Nets dominate the paint by a 58-30 margin and outrebound Philadelphia, 67-34, was Lopez. Lopez had 29 points and 11 rebounds while making 13-of-22 shots. It was Lopez’s 11th double-double this season.
“They were aggressive,” interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “They were dominant inside. They contested shots and rebounded. They helped out on defense. They set a great tone for us.”
Those performances placed a diminished emphasis on Williams and Johnson which could prove important since the Nets start a three-game road trip Wednesday against the seventh-seeded Celtics in their first meeting since a disappointing Christmas Day loss at home.
“We put ourselves in a position where we hopefully lessen the impact of a back-to-back,” Carlesimo said. “We got at it tonight as well as you could considering we needed to win the game and I thought played very efficiently which was really good to see.”
Johnson, who was a game-time decision with a sore left heel, had 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting in 23 minutes. Williams, who had 62 points in his previous two games, did not score until early in the third quarter and finished with 11 points — all in the third — while playing 27 minutes.
The Nets began seizing control over the final eight minutes of the second quarter. After Philadelphia was within 36-31 with 8:05 to play, the Nets closed out the half by outscoring the Sixers 20-7.
Unlike several other previous games, the Nets didn’t let up in the third. They steadily increased the lead and held a comfortable 23-point cushion entering the fourth.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.