PHILADELPHIA – For the second time in as many games here this season, the Wizards lost 120-112 to the Sixers and looked like a team still on All-Star break.
Bradley Beal (40 points on 15-for-25 shooting) had his performance negated by their worst defensive showing in 2017. It was his fourth 40-point game of the season.
John Wall had his 36th double-double (29 points, 14 assists, eight rebounds) but everyone else was a no-show until Markieff Morris (14 points, seven rebounds) had a burst late.
Morris stayed in foul trouble and Marcin Gortat (11 points, 11 rebounds) couldn’t finish in the paint (3-for-10).
The Wizards (34-22) haven’t done well in the season series with three losing teams in the conference: 1-2 vs. the Sixers, 1-2 vs. the Magic and 0-2 vs. the Heat.
The Sixers (22-35) had seven players in double figures, led by Robert Covington (25 points, 11 rebounds), Dario Saric (20 points, 11 rebounds), Gerald Henderson (18 points) and Richaun Holmes (12 points, 10 rebounds).
The offense wasn’t as fluid for the Wizards but it was good enough had they simply defended better. The Sixers had a 58-54 advantage in paint points and 48-43 in rebounds.
It all added up to a similar result to the 109-102 loss here on Nov. 16 when Wall was on a minutes restriction and Beal was absent because of a thigh strain. The Wizards were 2-8.
Joel Embiid, the Sixers’ best player, has never played against Washington. He is out with a torn left meniscus.
--Saric punished the Wizards when they switched, going from Morris to a smaller defender on him like Wall, Beal or Otto Porter (seven points, four rebounds). He didn’t give up the ball and used his 6-10 frame to get to the rim or force the help and find the open man. He did most of his damage in the first half where he had 12 points, eight rebound and four assists. Beal and Morris kept switching on the handoffs between Saric and T.J. McConnell (10 points, eight assists), the latter of whom has no range from distance. The Wizards put themselves at a disadvantage and the Sixers attacked it successfully.
--The rebounding and hustle plays all went Philadelphia’s way. When Gortat was able to force Jahlil Okafor to miss a jump hook, the Wizards couldn’t gather the rebound. That led to Morris picking up his fourth foul with 9:46 left in the third quarter. Saric’s pullup jump shot on the extra possession put the Sixers ahead 68-51.
--Gortat was out of sync. He missed point-blank shots and instead of shooting at the end of the second quarter on the final possession passed the ball back to Wall who was forced to heave a contested shot that was blocked.
--Beal was in attack mode from the beginning. He was the one player Philadelphia had no answer for as he exploited their hard closeouts at the arc to get to the rim which is why he began 8-for-10. With the Sixers gambling so much on the outlet passes, the guards were just pushing the ball strong even off makes to get layups on the other end. They scored 45 of the Wizards’ first 70 points.
--Wizards trade deadline acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic (two points, four rebounds) made his first appearance with 3:48 left in the first quarter and entered with 3:00 left in the third. He missed his first shot on a backdown of Nik Stauskas (11 points), the ball going over the rim. But he was key in the Wizards’ fourth-quarter surge to get the deficit to less than 10 with a steal for a layup.
--With Morris in foul trouble, Jason Smith (four minutes) started the fourth quarter and sparked a brief rally. He had a block of Saric on help to negate a basket and put the Wizards in transition as Beal made a three. He blocked Saric’s three in transition, too. Whether or not this remains the case with Smith losing the time because of Bogdanovic’s arrival isn’t clear yet but his hustle was sorely needed in the first half when this game got away.
--The upgraded Wizards’ bench combined to score 11 points with Trey Burke (five points) as the top producer.