P.J.: 'They played harder than we did'

PHILADELPHIA -- How could they let this happen?

How could the Brooklyn Nets, a team with aspirations of winning the Atlantic Division and securing home-court advantage in the playoffs, lose to a floundering Philadelphia 76ers squad that had dropped 12 of its past 13 coming in?

"We just didn’t defend," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said after the Sixers shot 52.6 percent from the field and had just seven turnovers in their 106-97 victory over the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center.

"I just think they wanted the game a little bit more than us tonight," added point guard Deron Williams, who did everything he could to prevent what he called "a bad loss" from occurring, scoring 27 points, totaling 13 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds in 41 All-Star caliber minutes.

D-Will’s 23rd point was the 10,000th of his career. Did it matter?

"Nope. It’s just another number," he replied. "I’m more worried about the loss than the record or anything like that."

Williams has every right to be concerned.

The Nets (37-27) had won three straight games. If everything went the way it was supposed to, they would’ve made it four in a row. But it didn’t. And they didn’t.

The Nets led 28-24 after one quarter on the strength of 14 Brook Lopez points, but were outscored 29-18 in the second quarter and never recovered. Spencer Hawes, who came in averaging 10.1 points, torched them for a season-high 24 along with 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Hawes led six Philadelphia players in double figures.

Lopez had just five points the rest of the way.

And don’t forget: This was a Sixers team that came into Monday night’s game ranked second to last in the NBA in scoring offense (92.2 ppg).

"They played harder than we did. They played better than we did," Carlesimo said. "This game meant more to them than it did to us. They deserved to win the game."

Williams said he didn’t think the Nets came in overlooking the Sixers, despite their recent woes.

"We talked about it a lot, last night, this morning and before the game,” he said. “You would think we would know that this was the type of game that had upset written all over it."

They didn’t. And a bad loss came as a result.