Sixers ride Williams' hot hand down stretch to win over Nets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Philadelphia 76ers are on a roll heading into the playoffs and it seems everybody is making contributions -- from Andre to Andre to Sam and even a guy coming off the bench named Lou.

Lou Williams hit three consecutive baskets in the final 3:47, and the surprising 76ers posted their 20th win in 27 games with a 108-99 victory over the fading New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.

"It's good for all of us to get quality time coming down the stretch in fourth-quarter games," said Williams, who finished with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. "It will be great for all of us in the near future in playoff time."

The late run against New Jersey helped the 76ers (38-37) snap a two-game losing streak and pull within a half-game of idle Washington and Toronto in the three-way fight for playoff positions 5-7 in the Eastern Conference.

"When we do get to the playoffs, we want to be playing the type of basketball we've been playing for a long time," 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "You can see it in the players as well, they really wanted to win this game because we let the last game slip away."

That was a loss to Cleveland on Sunday, and it put the 76ers in danger of their first three-game losing streak since mid-January.

Williams and company made sure it never happened by coming up with all the big plays down the stretch and getting major contributions from its core players.

Andre Miller had 24 points, 11 assists and five rebounds, while Andre Iguodala added 17 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Samuel Dalembert added 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks and finished off a 9-2 spurt that Williams ignited with seven straight points.

"I always liked fourth quarters," Williams said. "That's when everybody clamps down and the game gets really, really intense. That's when it's most exciting and I have always enjoyed that."

The Nets' third straight loss dropped them 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the conference. New Jersey (31-44) is down three games in the loss column with seven left in the regular season. The Nets are now 10th in the East, trailing Indiana by a half-game.

"We have to think we have an opportunity regardless of how many games we have left to play," said Vince Carter, who led the Nets with 29 points. "We have to find a way. We have to think positive. It's still there for the taking."

Devin Harris added 22 points for New Jersey and Richard Jefferson had 14, but just one in the second half.

Down by five entering the fourth quarter, the Nets cut it to 93-91 on Carter's 3-pointer from the left corner with 4:11 to go.

Williams then took over. He nailed a 3-pointer from the corner off Iguodala's feed on the 76ers' next possession for a 96-91 lead.

After Josh Boone scored on a rebound for New Jersey, Williams sandwiched a reverse layup and a jumper around a missed 3-pointer by New Jersey's Bostjan Nachbar for a 100-93 lead with 2:28 to play.

Iguodala stole the ball from Carter on the next possession and Dalembert scored inside for a 102-93 lead.

"They just executed better down the stretch," Nachbar said. "They ran plays where they got guys wide open for shots."

New Jersey never got close again as its magic number for missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years fell to five. That's any combination of Hawks' wins and Nets' losses.

Game notes
The teams split the season series 2-2. ... The first half ended tied at 57 with both teams shooting 55 percent from the field. ... New Jersey did not attempt a free throw in the first half. The Sixers were 12-of-15 from the line. ..The Nets finished 10-of-13 from the line, taking their first free throw midway through the third quarter. The Sixers finished 24-of-29.