Snapshots | Splitting a Back-to-Back With Washington
The opponent was the same, but like the location of the games themselves, the outcomes were different.
For the second time in as many nights, the 76ers (27-15) and Washington Wizards (17-25) battled.
Round 1 of the back-to-back, home-and-home series was held Tuesday in South Philadelphia, and went to the Sixers, convincingly.
Round 2, staged Wednesday in the nation’s capital, was controlled by Washington, 123-106.
The loss halted the Sixers’ season-high tying winning streak at four in a row, and kept the team winless at Capital One Arena for a ninth straight visit.
After falling behind by as many as 26 points in Wednesday’s third quarter, the Sixers rode a strong spurt from Joel Embiid (35 pts, 14 reb) to claw within 12 points early in the fourth.
Bradley Beal (34 pts, 6 3fg), Embiid’s All-Star counterpart, ensured the Wizards would stay in control, at one point scoring 14 consecutive points down the stretch to keep the Sixers at bay.
Jimmy Butler posted 23 points (7-18 fg, 9-10 ft) and nine rebounds, while Ben Simmons registered a double-double (his 26th), with 15 points (7-15 fg), 10 boards, and eight assists.
Despite the Sixers being forced to fight uphill for most of Wednesday’s contest, Brett Brown never felt his group was entirely out of it.
“We have done this before, we have comeback from significant margins late,” he said. “I felt like we hung around, we hung around. We just couldn’t get over the top.”
Washington got a big boost from its bench, which accounted for 51 points. The Sixers dealt with turnover issues throughout the evening, giving the ball away 24 times.
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CLOSE, BUT NOT ENOUGH
If the Sixers were to make a comeback, it was going to have to start somewhere, right?
At various points during Wednesday’s game, there were flashes.
A flurry from Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler in the middle of the second quarter, after the Sixers had slipped behind by 18. Then later, a few quick buckets at the outset of the second half.
But the Sixers’ best shot - and what also turned out to be their last best shot - came during a Joel Embiid-powered stretch that bridged the third and fourth quarters.
From the time he subbed in, with about four minutes to go in the third, until the 10-minute mark of the fourth, the 7-footer churned out 13 points, gobbled up five rebounds, and registered a block.
The big man’s burst helped whittle the margin from 26 to a dozen.
“We were already down, really nothing to lose at that point,” Embiid said. “My mindset was just be aggressive, and attack.”
Then Bradley Beal authored a dominant response of his own.
“In that second half, we kept coming back,” said Embiid. “They just kept making a run, every time we got close. It was tough, but that’s something we can learn from and get better.”
SHAMET’S FOLLOW UP
A belief about NBA basketball that Brett Brown often repeats is that, in his view, the league constantly forces its teams and players to back up good performances.
Tuesday at The Center, Landry Shamet had himself a night. Twenty-nine points, and a franchise rookie record eight 3-pointers.
Wednesday, a little bit farther south down I-95, the no. 26 pick finished with five points and two rebounds in 24 minutes.
Regardless of what’s happening on the offensive end of the court, Brown is constantly keeping tabs on Shamet’s defensive play, much like he does with the other less experienced players on the Sixers’ roster.
All in all, Brown feels Shamet has so far ridden the first-year wave well.
“My challenge with all those young guys is defense. This league, you cannot blink. Defense is the area that as a team, and certainly those young guys, is most on my mind going forward.”
Big time movement manufactures a big time jam.
Everybody gets a touch. pic.twitter.com/IF42mShJtW
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 10, 2019
The Sixers will return home Friday, hosting the Atlanta Hawks. After dropping 19 of its first 22 games, Atlanta - led by former Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce - has made modest strides as the season has moved along, winning eight times between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Trae Young is on-pace to become just the fourth player to average 15 points and seven assists in his rookie year.