PHILADELPHIA -- Bradley Beal sat in disbelief on the bench next to Alan Anderson. He almost couldn't believe, after the letdown the Wizards had two nights prior, they were trailing the Philadelphia 76ers and at risk of losing Friday's game.
Fortunately for the Wizards (27-30), that didn't happen. But they needed to be jolted several times to wake up because they have the Cleveland Cavaliers coming to down for an early game Sunday at Verizon Center.
"I said to Alan in the third quarter, 'We have to win this game,'" said Beal, who shot just 4 of 14 in the 103-94 comeback win at Wells Fargo Center. "We can't come out the way we did, especially on Sunday or we're going to get beat by 30. We need to come out with more focus, more energy. It starts on defense."
Not getting up for the Sixers (8-50) is understandable. But considering the Wizards are fighting for their playoff lives and lost 109-104 to the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, they shouldn't have needed any special motivation.
Beal tied the score at 17 with a jumper in the first quarter and then Philadelphia assumed control with a 5-0 run. The Wizards trimmed the deficit to one early in the second quarter, briefly took the lead 39-37 on a three from Beal and then trailed again going into halftime 52-48.
The pattered repeated itself throughout the third quarter until John Wall took over by scoring 13 of his game-high 23 points.
"We played terrible. Only down four," Wall said of the halftime deficit. "We just got to defend. Offensively is not our problem. We had a bad shooting night (40 of 94) and still had 103 points. It's as simple as that. It's aggravating for me to keep telling you all the same thing. You all are probably tired of hearing it. When we defend, we're perfectly fine."
Anderson, playing in his second game of the season, let his teammates know that what was happening on the court was unacceptable. They got their hands dirty to make it right. Wall was two rebounds shy of his third triple-double of the season. Marcin Gortat grabbed 11 rebounds, Otto Porter had 10, Markieff Morris seven and Nene eight off the bench.
"We realized we can't come out and just beat everybody, just beat a team like that that doesn't have a great record. They competed hard," Beal said of the Sixers. "We did a great job of finally figuring it out, figuring out their defense.
"It was a matter of us just playing hard. They were beating us to a lot of loose balls. They were scoring at will, making a lot of catch-and-shoot threes. They basically were doing whatever they wanted. We weren't doing anything to make them uncomfortable. We finally got after it. Started pressuring the ball."
The fear of losing this one weighed on Wall long before tipoff.
"The whole game I was thinking that. Before the game even started," Wall said. "This is a game we can't lose especially if we're trying to make a run. Losing a game like this would be really devastating."
Winning a game like Sunday's vs. Cleveland could be season-altering.