The Brooklyn Nets are used to getting a strong first-quarter from All-Star center Brook Lopez. On Tuesday night, they also got a big opening-period performance from Reggie Evans.
Evans scored 10 of his 17 points and Lopez chipped in 15 of his 29 in the first quarter to help lead the Nets to a 104-83 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, strengthening Brooklyn's hold on fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
"You just go out there and do what you need to do to win. It's all about heart," said Evans, who already had a double-double with 10 rebounds by the end of the first quarter.
"It isn't all about the way you look, how tall you are, how physical you look. It's all about that heart. I'd rather play a physical game than a pretty game. The more physical, the better it is. I like contact. I don't like running away."
By the time the Nets were done packing for their second game of a late-season back-to back set at Boston tomorrow night, Chicago was on its way to its second straight loss — 109-98 to Toronto — to fall three games behind Brooklyn.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson had 11 points apiece for the Nets.
Williams knows Evans' toughness and playoff experience would come in handy against a team like the Bulls that have a strong frontline.
"It's great when he comes out like a man possessed," Williams said of Evans' performance that set tone for the Nets. "It's been a lot of game this year where he's just got us going and we just fed off his energy. When he's playing like that, especially offensively, we're tough to beat. . He's playing at an extreme high level and hopefully he can continue to do it."
Reserve guard MarShon Brooks had 11 points and seven assists for the Nets, winners of two straight overall and three of four in the season series against the 76ers.
The Nets outrebounded Philadelphia 67-34 — including 24 offensive boards — and had 25 second-chance points. The 76ers scored just six second-chance points.
"Brook draws a lot of attention when he has the ball and that gives Reggie the green light to do what he does best," 76ers center Spencer Hawes said. "Reggie can rebound and put the ball back up for easy points. They both really beat us bad tonight."
Nick Young had 18 points and Jrue Holiday scored 15 for the 76ers, who have lost two straight.
"They started out and you could see what their game plan was, just to pound it in the paint. It was no disguise tonight. It was just, 'We're going in the paint,'" 76ers coach Doug Collins said.
Aside from the big night Evans and Lopez had, Brooklyn interim coach P.J. Carlesimo thought the Nets were able to shake off their bad habit of wasting big leads.
The Nets have been hampered by falling apart in the third and fourth quarters. On Tuesday night it seemed like the second quarter was going to be their undoing. A 13-point lead was cut down to just five after Young's fadeway jumper made it 38-33 with 7:46 remaining in the second quarter. However, the Nets closed out the first half on 18-5 run to take a 56-38 lead at the break.
Brooklyn led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter and shot 12 for 22 from the field, enjoying a 82-65 lead that allowed Carlesimo to rest his starters in the final quarter.
The Nets, whose biggest lead was 28, blocked seven shots and limited the 76ers to 38-percent shooting (30 for 80).
"Our entire team was aggressive on the boards tonight," said Lopez, had 11 rebounds and three blocks. "We were able to get the stops we needed, we helped each other out and limited them to one shot.
NOTES: Every player on the Nets active roster scored except for Kris Joseph. ... After recording four double-doubles in his first 69 games, Evans has four in his last seven. ... Williams' lone 3-point basket tied him with Kerry Kittles for the franchise record with 158. ... The last NBA player to have a double-double by the end of the first quarter was the Lakers' Dwight Howard against Miami on Feb. 8.