The challenges of their seasons were apparent in Wednesday’s game between the 1-9 Sixers and 2-7 Wizards. One team nearly squandered a dominating lead, the other faltered at the start.
However, the Sixers got enough production down the stretch, including a big three-pointer from Richaun Holmes, to claim a 109-102 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers looked like they had put this game away early, jumping out on the Wizards by 24 points with 7:35 to play in the second quarter.
The Wizards closed in with a 19-8 run at the end of the first half, though. They cut the Sixers' lead to five in the third.
The Sixers were without Jahlil Okafor and Ersan Ilyasova late in the fourth after they fouled out. Ilyasova picked up his sixth while the Sixers were up five with 1:29 to play. He sent John Wall to the line and the guard made both free throws to chop the Sixers' lead to 103-100.
But the Wizards went scoreless in the final 1:05 as the Sixers held on for the victory.
Wall delivered a hard foul on a driving Dario Saric with 1.2 seconds to go. Saric hit one of his two free throws to cap the night's scoring.
Both teams were missing a key player. Joel Embiid sat out as part of his restrictions on back-to-backs. He will play Thursday against the Timberwolves. Head coach Brett Brown said the decision was made by the Sixers' medical staff (see story).
Bradley Beal was out for the Wizards because of right hamstring tightness.
Inside the box score
• Wall led all players with 27 points (10 for 12 from the line) and six assists.
• Okafor led the Sixers with 19 points (8 for 11 from the field) and five rebounds.
• Saric recorded a double-double off the bench (see below), posting 13 points and 12 rebounds.
• Sergio Rodriguez dished 12 assists.
• Six players scored in double digits for the Sixers (Okafor 19, Ilyasova 16, Nik Stauskas 15, Saric 13, Hollis Thompson 11).
• Markieff Morris added 19 points for the Wizards. Otto Porter Jr. (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (10 points, 14 rebounds) had double-doubles.
Ilyasova gets the start
Brown changed up the starting five and went with Ilyasova instead of Saric at power forward. The Sixers had planned for Saric to come off the bench at the beginning of his rookie year, but injuries created a need for him in the starting lineup.
“I think that Ersan, because of his veteran years in the league, might come in and not put as much pressure straightaway on Dario to do things,” Brown said. “I think with that second group, maybe seeing the game and feeling the game, Dario could be featured a little bit more and do some things there to help that second group, provide a toughness, provide perhaps another layer of scoring, and I want to see it.”
The Sixers will travel to Minnesota to play the Timberwolves (3-7) Thursday. Andrew Wiggins is averaging 26.6 points per game and Karl-Anthony Towns is posting 22.0 points and 8.8 rebounds.