Washington Wizards

Sixers-Wizards observations: Holding on to end homestand

Sixers-Wizards observations: Holding on to end homestand


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. 

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. 

Give and Go: How will Sixers fare on season-long homestand?

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Give and Go: How will Sixers fare on season-long homestand?

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Marshall Harris and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we'll look at whether the Sixers can keep their momentum going during their upcoming six-game homestand.

At first glance, I thought the Sixers were looking at a winning homestand of 4-2. But with the latest injury to Justin Anderson (out at least three weeks with shin splints), the Sixers’ depth chart at guard could severely cripple those hopes. 

While they start Ben Simmons at point guard and JJ Redick at the shooting guard, the bench is left with only T.J. McConnell, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and rookie Furkan Korkmaz.

It’s hard to believe that guard rotation (or even a fully healthy one) would slow down Golden State. That's likely a loss any way you look at it with the Warriors coming off Thursday's loss to Boston.

The Sixers should handle Utah just as they did in Salt Lake City. But after that, the backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum will likely be tough to endure.

Orlando should offer a very strong chance at a win. The Magic have cooled off since a 6-2 start. Any team that can lose to the Bulls at home should be beatable by Brett Brown's squad.

The last two games against Cleveland and Washington should be great measuring sticks as top teams in the East. Both the Cavaliers and Wizards have been inconsistent. You'd hope the Sixers would be a little healthier by the last two games on the homestand. It will likely come down to late-game execution and I can see the Sixers earning a split.

So that's a 3-3 homestand from my vantage point with a chance to get a fourth win depending on Joel Embiid's availability. But with six games in 12 days, you have to wonder if "load management" won't play a factor here. So I'll stick with a shorthanded 3-3, accounting for the possibility of a JoJo no-show.​

This is tricky because it combines how well the Sixers are currently playing with the level of competition set to enter the Wells Fargo Center.

On the Sixers’ end, things couldn’t be much better. The team capped off the five-game road trip with an exclamation mark as Joel Embiid put on a show for the ages against the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles. More importantly, the Sixers finished the trip with a 3-2 mark (should have been 4-1 if not for the “rogue” moment in Sacramento). Either way, the Sixers are in a solid position as they return to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time in just over two weeks.

As for the opponents, there aren’t any real slouches on the slate. The only team the Sixers will face below the .500 mark is the Rudy Gobert-less Utah Jazz, who they already took care of on the road.

Things get started with the champion Golden State Warriors, who had won seven straight prior to Thursday’s loss to Boston. The Sixers will also face Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers before a date with the surprising Orlando Magic. They finish off the home stretch with Eastern Conference heavyweights Cleveland and Washington.

I would say a split would be more than acceptable for the Sixers, but I’ll get a bit greedy and say the young squad feeds off the home crowd’s energy to go 4-2 during the stint with losses only to the Warriors and Cavaliers.

Unfortunately, the homestand will likely start with an L to the Warriors. As Marshall alluded to, the Warriors are coming off a loss Thursday. That does not bode well for the Sixers.

The team has been playing at such a high level. Here’s the crazy thing though: they went 3-2 on a West Coast trip where Redick and Dario Saric, two extremely important cogs in the Sixers’ lineup, contributed very little. 

Redick will right the ship. He has the track record. Sometimes, you’re just off. If it’s a mechanical issue, you know Redick will get it figured out. Saric’s struggles are likely the result of a role change and fatigue from playing so much basketball. While he doesn’t have the track record of Redick, I expect Saric to bounce back as well. 

Still, the Sixers are up against a gauntlet. After Saturday’s matchup with Golden State, the team hosts the Jazz, Trail Blazers and Magic before wrapping the homestand against the Wizards and Cavs. In my eyes, that’s three very winnable games and three extremely challenging contests. If they go 3-3, there would be nothing to be upset about.

But I think they pull out one of the games against the Wizards or Cavs and they go 4-2 over the next six games at the Wells Fargo Center.

Best of NBA: Harden's career-high 56 points lead Rockets past Jazz

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Best of NBA: Harden's career-high 56 points lead Rockets past Jazz

HOUSTON — James Harden scored a career-high 56 points and added 13 assists in just 35 minutes to lead the Houston Rockets to a 137-110 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night.

Harden finished 19 of 25 from the field after missing his last three attempts. The MVP runner-up was a perfect 7 for 7 from beyond the arc until he missed a step-back 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter as the shot clock was about to expire.

Even when the Jazz could deny Harden his shot, he dished it off for someone else to score. Eric Gordon scored 20 points, Trevor Ariza had 14 and Nene scored 13 off the bench.

Harden received a standing ovation from the Toyota Center crowd, which rained down "MVP! MVP!" chants at multiple points during the game. He had 22 points in both the first and third quarters, 30 at halftime and sat for the final 7:32 of the blowout.

Porzingis pours in 40, Knicks come from 19 down to beat Pacers
NEW YORK — Kristaps Porzingis scored a career-high 40 points, carrying the New York Knicks back from a 19-point deficit to a 108-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night.

Porzingis added eight rebounds and six blocked shots in his seventh 30-point performance in nine games this season.

Rookie Frank Ntilikina made the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining as the Knicks won for the fifth time in six games after an 0-3 start. He had 10 points and seven assists off the bench. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 16 points.

Thaddeus Young scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo had 17 for the Pacers, who led 84-65 with under 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter (see full recap).

Beal scores 38 as Wizards beat Raptors without Wall
TORONTO — Bradley Beal scored 38 points, Otto Porter Jr. had 19 and the Washington Wizards overcame the absence of All-Star point guard John Wall to beat Toronto 107-96 on Sunday night, winning for the second time in 11 meetings with the Raptors.

Marcin Gortat had 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. each scored 10 points for the Wizards, who had lost four of their previous five.

Wall sat out because of a sprained left shoulder sustained in Friday's 130-122 loss to Cleveland. He is expected to return for Tuesday's home game against Dallas.

Toronto lost its starting point guard when Kyle Lowry was ejected with 8:08 remaining in the second quarter after picking up two technical fouls in quick succession for arguing. Lowry finished with two points in 12 minutes (see full recap.) 

Schroeder, Hawks end 8-game skid, beat Cavaliers 
CLEVELAND —Coming off LeBron James' 57-point performance, it appeared the Cavaliers had finally gained some momentum.

A team that hadn't won since its season opener proved otherwise.

Dennis Schroeder scored 28 points and the injury-riddled Atlanta Hawks ended an eight-game losing streak, beating skidding Cleveland 117-115 on Sunday.

The Hawks hadn't won since beating Dallas on Oct. 18 and were missing five players, but the Cavaliers went down to yet another puzzling loss.

James, who had 26 points and 13 rebounds, was soaking his feet in a tub of ice water and had ice wraps on both knees and his right elbow following the game. He didn't have an explanation for why there was no carry-over from Friday's 130-122 win over Washington (see full recap).