NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Instead of trashing his hotel room or moping after being taken out of the Philadelphia 76ers’ starting lineup for the first time this season, Spencer Hawes channeled his frustration on the court against the New Jersey Nets.
Hawes scored a season-high 19 points and the slumping Philadelphia 76ers got a much-needed playoff boost from a revamped starting lineup with a 107-88 win over the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.
Sixers coach Doug Collins made two lineup changes, inserting rookie Nik Vucevic at center and replacing Evan Turner with Jodie Meeks.
“He told me before shootaround and obviously I wasn’t happy,” said Hawes, who had started all 27 games for which he was healthy. “I think anybody playing the game, you get news like that and you’re not happy. There are two ways to go. You can sit there and sulk about it, or be a man, swallow it and then try to make the most of it.”
Hawes did the latter. He hit 7 of 11 from the field, had eight rebounds and three blocks in helping the 76ers (30-27) snap a four-game losing streak and win for only the fifth time in 15 games.
The win gave Philadelphia a half-game over the Knicks (29-27) in the race for the No. 7 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. New York had a late game in Chicago. Idle Milwaukee (28-29) is the ninth place in the conference.
“Spencer was fabulous,” Collins said. “He was our ace of spades tonight.”
Collins also said that having Hawes on the court with forward Thaddeus Young produces points. Young also had 19 while reserve guard Lou Williams had 20 on a night the 76ers got 62 points from their bench.
The loss eliminated the Nets (21-38) from playoff contention for the fifth straight season.
Kris Humphries had 20 points and 10 rebounds for New Jersey. Deron Williams added 14 points, six rebounds and five assists on a night that he was hounded by Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala and others who tried to double team him.
“We want to win as many games as possible,” Deron Williams said. “We want to play the spoiler. It didn’t happen today, but we still have them two more times.”
The Nets were without forward Gerald Wallace, who strained his left hamstring, in the win over Cleveland on Sunday night.
The 76ers blew this one open late in the second quarter and in the third.
Elton Brand hit two free throws and a 15-footer to ignite an 18-10 run in the final six minutes of the first half that put the Sixers ahead 52-43 at the break. Iguodala had a drive and a windmill dunk in the spurt and Lou Williams added seven points, the final three on a running 3-pointer from in front of the Philadelphia bench at the buzzer.
Hawes had eight of his points in a third-quarter burst that allowed Philadelphia to build an 18-point lead. The 76ers led by as many as 23 points.
“This was a team that was a desperate team,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “They are in a major playoff fight. They had another gear that they went to tonight, and we couldn’t get to that gear.”
Iguodala finished with 13 and Jrue Holiday had 14.
The only other Nets scorers in double figures were Johan Petro with 12 and MarShon Brooks with 10.
NOTES: Nets reserve forward Gerald Green played despite having a wisdom tooth extracted on Monday. … Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov attended his second straight game. He toured his nearly completed new arena in Brooklyn earlier in the day. … The game was one of three the Nets and 76ers will play in the final 17 days of the regular season. … Philadelphia shot nearly 46 percent from the field despite making 2 of its first 12 shots. … Meeks had five points on 2 of 8 shooting, while Turner had 2 on 1 of 4 shooting. ..The teams will play again in Philadelphia on Friday.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)