Ripley Might Not Believe This

The numbers are true. The result bordered on the unbelievable.

The 76ers, who led the New Jersey Nets by as many as 17 points in the third quarter and by as many as 12 in the fourth, spent the final 10:37 as if their game plan had been written in invisible ink.

They missed their last 18 shots from the floor.

They went without a field goal in their final 20 possessions.

They got outscored 18-4 in that stretch.

They shot 5-for-33 in the second half, 2-for-22 in the fourth quarter.

A game that seemed as if it belonged to them deteriorated into an 85-83 loss in the Wacovia Center tonight. And it's not as if the Nets are exactly a powerhouse; this was their second victory in their last 10 games.

''Really, the whole second half we went through a dry spell,'' Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said in a bold understatement. ''We just could not score.''

The Sixers' 83 points represented their lowest total since scoring a season-low 72 Dec. 12 in Cleveland. Their 25 points after intermission represented a season-low for either haldf. Their 8 points in the fourth was their lowest total in any quarter this season.

''That was a terrible loss,'' Andre Iguodala said.

How much more do you really want to know?