BROOKLYN - OK, so it's not surprising when the Sixers finish on the short end of the free-throws-attempted category.

The Sixers are tied for 28th in the league at 18.3 attempts per game.

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So yes, you might expect that the Brooklyn Nets, who rank 10th, would've gotten to the line a few more times than the Sixers in their game Sunday at the Barclays Center, but 28-10?

That's a tough differential to overcome. Considering those numbers, it's hard to believe that the Sixers were in the game with just less than 10 seconds remaining.

But Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson made the Nets' 21st free throw with 2 seconds left to seal a 95-92 victory.

Normally when the Sixers lose a free-throw battle it's because they are primarily a perimeter team while their opponent is consistently attacking their suspect underbelly.

Still, this was a little hard to stomach.

"I've got to be real careful because I don't want to give away my holiday money," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "We had five more field goals, even at the three; plus-five rebounding; plus-14 on second-chance points; more assists; fewer turnovers; more points off turnovers, but minus 13 at the free-throw line. That's the difference."

The Sixers drove to the basket. They pushed inside. They attacked the basket in a similar fashion to the Nets, but only one team got the whistles.

"We just keep talking to the guys about at the moment of truth to get in there and get hit," Collins said.

"We had the ball in the paint 48 times," he continued. "We have to continue to get in there and find a way. That's an area where we just have to do it."

At some point it gets frustrating for players like Evan Turner, who had 15 points and 7 rebounds, Thaddeus Young (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (24 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists), who certainly feel like they have the bruises to show that they played a physical game - but then they look up and see six combined free-throw attempts.

"That's crazy, and it's happened like four or five times," Turner said. "You don't want to blame anything like that, but something is . . . It's discouraging.

"We have like six free throws and the other team has 20. It's hard to beat teams like that. You don't worry about it but sometimes you just sit back and laugh because it doesn't make sense."

There doesn't seem like much can be done about it.

"I only have three technical fouls in my career and the reason why is because I know that they are not going to change the call," Sixers guard Dorell Wright said. "The only thing you can do is go up to them nicely and tell them that they missed a call.

"You just have to do what you have to do to sell the foul. Without flopping, though, because I'm not trying to get fined."

The Nets had four starters shoot at least six free throws. Johnson paved the way with 22 points and Deron Williams had 16 points and five assists as Brooklyn (14-12) broke a four-game losing streak.

The Nets trailed 12-4 early but used a 20-5 run to build a lead they would never fully surrender.

The Sixers (13-15), meanwhile, began their eight-game road trip, which continues Wednesday in Memphis, with a loss.

Before they return home to play Brooklyn on Jan. 8 they also will play at Golden State, Portland, the Lakers, Phoenix, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.

"I just want our guys to look at the [game] that's right in front of them," Collins said. "You can't look at the totality. You start doing that and it will overwhelm you.

"And regardless of what happens, we're still going to have 50 games left. So if we're going to bank our season on whether we win them all or lose them all on this road trip, that would be a bad thing to do.

"We can't do that. We just have to keep working. We did some good things today. I can never fault their effort. Our guys play hard. They competed to the finish. We just ran out of time."