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FINAL: WIZARDS 106 | SIXERS 103
Behind 24 points from Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie’s first-career triple-double (14 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists), the Wizards defeated the Sixers 106-103 on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. With the win, Washington snaps a six-game slide and improves to 9-3 in games decided by three points or less this season. The Sixers entered having won five-straight and 15 of their last 18 games.
The Wizards were playing without All-Star guard Bradley Beal (left wrist sprain) and Thomas Bryant (right ankle sprain), who had started the last two games for Washington. With two starters out, the team got production from the entire lineup. All 10 players that saw game action scored, including eight scoring at least eight points. The Wizards’ bench outscored the Sixers’ reserves 53-27.
“I think that’s how it has to be,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said postgame. “We’ve seen it at times this year. And now with the absence of Brad, that’s a big chunk of our offense. No one is just going to step in and fill that void. Everyone has to pick it up in certain areas and tonight was a great example of that.”
With Bryant out of the lineup, Daniel Gafford moved back into the starting role he’s played in most of the season – and helped Washington get out to an early lead by holding Sixers star center Joel Embiid in check. Embiid started the game 1-6 (.167) from the field and scored just two points in the first quarter.
After the teams traded buckets in the opening minutes of the second quarter, Kuzma knocked down a 3-pointer to spark a 12-2 run to give the Wizards a 46-34 lead with 7:42 left in the first half. He finished the night with 24 points on 10-19 (.526) from the field and 4-6 (.667) from three to go along with seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Sixers, however, did not stay down for long. Led by Embiid, who scored nine of his 27 points in the final six minutes of the first half, Philadelphia went on a 17-5 run to tie the game at 54.
The Sixers stayed hot early in the third, riding a 10-0 run to their first lead since the 11:27 mark of the second quarter. From that point, however, neither team managed much separation. In a back-and-forth final six minutes of the third quarter, Washington and Philadelphia remained within two points of each other. Kuzma knocked down his fourth triple of the night with nine seconds on the clock to give the Wizards a two-point advantage heading into the final frame.
After the Wizards took a five-point lead early in the fourth on a Kispert three, Embiid and Tyrese Maxey checked back into the game for Philadelphia with 7:16 remaining. The duo made an immediate impact, leading a 10-0 Sixers run to take a five-point lead over the Wizards into the game’s final minutes.
Washington countered, and with the game tied at 96, Kuzma hit a difficult fadeaway jumper to re-take the lead for Washington and drive a crucial 12-3 Wizards run.
The resurgence was capped by a floater from Montrezl Harrell, who finished the night with 14 points on 7-10 (.700) shooting, to put the team up 102-98 with 52 seconds remaining. After Embiid knocked down a mid-range jumper to pull within two points and a Philadelphia stop on the other end, Kuzma made one of his best defensive plays of the season. As Embiid drove toward the basket in transition with a chance to tie the game, Kuzma fully extended and notched his third block of the night with seven seconds left to seal the win.
“It was good to (win) against a good team,” Dinwiddie said postgame. “Especially in the stretch that we’re in. It’s not going to get any easier.”
Up next, the Wizards have two days off before hosting the league-leading Suns on Saturday night at Capital One Arena.