NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — While the Philadelphia 76ers still have a lot of learn about finishing games, Doug Collins can take a little solace in one aspect.
The 76ers are finally winning them after opening the season 3-13.
Spencer Hawes scored a season-high 18 points and the 76ers snapped an eight-game road losing streak with an 82-77 victory over the slumping New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.
“We still make too many mistakes at the end of the game,” Collins said after the 76ers won for the sixth time in eight games. “We can’t do that, but we got away with it tonight. I think I teach more in winning than in losing. We have to finish games better. We did get the win and that’s what matters.”
Still, the 76ers nearly squandered an 11-point lead with less than five minutes to play. A 13-5 Nets run got them within 78-75 with 36 seconds to play, but Philadelphia managed to hang on after Andre Iguodala hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.
“We’ve been down this road before,” said Jrue Holiday, who had 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. “It’s just about us playing smart when the game is on the line. We’re a bunch of young guys just trying to win and lately, we’ve been successful.”
Elton Brand added 15 as the 76ers won for only the second time in 12 road games and ended their longest losing streak away from home since 2006.
“This was a great road win for us,” Brand said. “We’ve been in this position before and didn’t finish. This time, we might have faded a bit, but we were there in the end and got the win. It’s definitely possible that we have turned the corner.”
Brook Lopez scored 16 points for the Nets, who lost their eighth straight overall and sixth straight to the 76ers. Devin Harris and Travis Outlaw added 14 points apiece for New Jersey, which just came up short again.
“This is kind of how we have been playing,” Harris said. “We play up for the hierarchy teams and we don’t play as well against some of the teams at the bottom of the totem pole. It’s just a matter of energy for us. We just weren’t there.”
The Nets played without swingman Terrence Williams. The team’s 2009 first-round draft pick was sent home before the game because he is part of a three-team trade with the Rockets and Lakers, according to a person familiar with the deal.
Williams will go to Houston. New Jersey will get the Rockets’ first-round draft pick in 2012, the Lakers’ first-round pick in 2011 and current Lakers shooting guard Sasha Vujacic.
The Lakers would get veteran forward Joe Smith, who was active for the Nets on Tuesday night.
Smith confirmed that he is going to the Lakers and that Williams was being shipped to Houston.
The deal cannot be completed until Wednesday because Smith signed with the Nets in the offseason as a free agent.
After the game, the Nets’ players met and discussed a recent tendency to fall behind early.
“We need to jump out on some of these teams and put them on their heels,” Harris said. “It’s like we are walking into a fight and catching the first three punches. We realize what is going on it is happening every single game. We can’t fight like that. We have to come out and throw some punches and come out swinging.”
Hawes and Holiday came up big in the final quarter for the 76ers.
The Nets twice cut the lead to three points, but Hawes put in a rebound and Holiday hit a high-arcing 3-pointer to push the lead to 68-60.
After a basket by Harris, Holiday hit two free throws and Iguodala hit a free throw and a reverse dunk to push the lead to 73-62.
New Jersey responded with a 13-5 spurt to get close. Holiday scored all five Philadelphia points in the run, converting a pass from Hawes for a layup and a three-point play.
Trailing 57-46 late in the third quarter the Nets made a run with Lopez and Harris on the bench.
Outlaw hit a 3-pointer and rookie Ben Uzoh converted a three-point play and had an assist to Derrick Favors to set up another three-point play in a 9-2 spurt that got New Jersey within 59-55 entering the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Iguodala had a 3-point attempt wedge between the rim and the backboard in the third quarter. The Nets won the ensuing jump ball. … Nets shooting guard Anthony Morrow played 14 seconds in the first quarter before aggravating a sore hamstring. He did not return. Favors and Kris Humphries each had 13 rebounds for New Jersey. … Collins got a a few chuckles in the postgame press conference when he referred to Hawes as Spencer Haywood, his teammate on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)