Joel Embiid had 39 points and 13 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers beat Brooklyn 123-117 on Wednesday night in an anticipated matchup that fizzled with the Nets missing their biggest stars.
The Sixers (38-17) moved into first place in the Eastern Conference with just 17 games left this season, in a game played at Wells Fargo Center without Brooklyn big guns James Harden, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Tobias Harris chipped in with 26 points for the 76ers, while Australia's Ben Simmons had 17 points, four rebounds, nine assists, three steals, and one block.
Kyrie Irving scored 23 points in the first half - his eighth 20-point first half of the season - and finished with 37 points.
Irving, though, sat out as the deep reserves helped the Nets rally from 16 points down to make it 118-115 with 1:15 left. Embiid sealed the win from the free-throw line to the tune of "M-V-P!" chants.
"When the playoffs start, it's a whole new beast. And we'll be ready for them," 76ers coach Doc Rivers said.
"And I'm sure they'll be ready for us."
The Nets (37-18) are now one game behind the Sixers in the standings after Philadelphia improved to 21-5 at home.
In Detroit, Reggie Jackson hit a jumper with 2.3 seconds left against his former team, helping the Los Angeles Clippers (39-18) to a 100-98 win and seventh-straight victory.
The Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic had a game-high 29 points, including a three-point floater with less than a second remaining, to see off the Memphis Grizzlies 114-113.
Khris Middleton led the Milwaukee Bucks, minus two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, with 27 points in the 130-105 triumph at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Stephen Curry made 11-of-16 three-pointers, and scored 25 of his 42 points in the third quarter as the Golden State Warriors ran away from the Oklahoma City Thunder 147-109.
Aussie Patty Mills had 23 points in the San Antonio Spurs' 117-112 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Nikola Jokic had 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his 15th triple-double of the season to lead the Denver Nuggets over the Miami Heat 123-106, while the New York Knicks kept Zion Williamson quiet in a 116-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Elsewhere - the Washington Wizards beat the Sacramento Kings 123-111, the Cleveland Cavaliers were 103-90 winners over the Charlotte Hornets, the Orlando Magic had a 115-106 victory at the Chicago Bulls, and the Houston Rockets were defeated 132-124 by the Indiana Pacers.