A 29-point blowout turned into Hack-A-Ben as the Sixers barely edged out the Wizards for a 118-113 win on Wednesday night.
The game seemed put away when the Sixers had a 22-point lead over the John Wall-less Wizards early in the fourth quarter. But after the Sixers were up 95-79 with 7:11 remaining, the Wizards outscored them 18-5 to make it a three-point game.
While the Wizards raced back into the game, they intentionally fouled Ben Simmons, a 56.6 percent free throw shooter. Their strategy was effective. Simmons shot 12 for 24 in the fourth quarter alone. He finished the game 15 of 29 (51.7 percent) from the line and the team was 41 of 64 (64.1 percent) from the stripe.
The Sixers were without Joel Embiid for the final 2:24 after he fouled out. Dario Saric connected on an and-one from JJ Redick with 22.2 seconds remaining to give the Sixers a 116-111 lead. Tomas Satoransky cut it back to three, 116-113, with 11.4 ticks to go. Jerryd Bayless hit free throws to finally ice the win.
• Simmons showed no lingering effects of a right ankle sprain. He recorded a monster 31-point, 18-rebound double-double. Simmons also had four assists, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers in 41 minutes. He set career highs in scoring, rebounds and minutes.
• Embiid, who played in this game instead of Thursday’s bookend of a back-to-back set (see more below), posted 25 points, 14 points, four assists and four blocks in 32 minutes. He became the first player since Yao Ming to record at least 16 games of three blocks within his first 50 games.
• Embiid has yet to be cleared for consecutive games and will not play on Thursday in Boston against the Celtics. Brett Brown noted Embiid’s desire to play in front of the home crowd as well as the fact that suiting up Wednesday versus Thursday gives the center an extra day of rest before their next matchup on Saturday when they host the Pistons.
• Instead of being able to rest for most of the fourth quarter ahead of a back-to-back, the Sixers’ starters were back together with just under six minutes to play to fend off the Wizards.
• The Sixers’ second unit took a hit when T.J. McConnell sustained a left shoulder contusion in the third quarter and did not return. X-rays came back negative. McConnell had four points, two rebounds and an assist through 16 minutes. The Sixers utilized Bayless, who can play the one and the two, at the point in McConnell’s absence.
• The Wizards received a big boost from their bench. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored a team-high 22 points and Jodie Meeks added 21, as the Wizards’ bench outscored the Sixers’ reserves, 67-21.
• Bradley Beal left the game in the first with a right facial contusion but returned to finish with 21 points.
• Embiid swatted not one, but two shots in six seconds during the second quarter. First, a cutting layup attempt by Meeks. Then, a 10-foot jumper by Oubre. Embiid eclipsed his season average for blocks (1.6) on one trip down the court.
Embiid said, "You get a block. And you get a block."— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) November 30, 2017
Two blocks in a span of six seconds.
Adding to his highlight reel, Embiid blocked Tim Frazier later in the quarter and hustled down the court in time to get up for a monster dunk from Simmons four seconds later. He showed his athleticism and speed on that play.
• Injury updates: Nik Stauskas was cleared to play after missing the last eight games because of a right ankle sprain. Justin Anderson (left leg) and Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) remained sidelined. In addition to Wall, Sheldon Mac (left Achilles surgery) was out for the Wizards.
• Jahlil Okafor was listed as inactive and Richaun Holmes did not play. Holmes should see more playing time against the Celtics without Embiid available.
• The Sixers pulled down 64 ... 6-4 ... rebounds. Covington (12), Embiid (14) and Simmons (18) combined to out-rebound the Wizards (35) by themselves.