Report From Philadelphia 76ers
Game Recap: Wizards 106, 76ers 94
Snapshot: A quick burst down the stretch of Friday’s third quarter at Verizon Center gave the 76ers (7-43) a chance to emerge from the sizable hole they fell into early against the Washington Wizards (22-26). Washington’s All-Star point guard, however, made sure his side would come out on top. John Wall spun together the fourth triple-double of his blossoming career, as the Wizards fended off the Sixers, 106-94.
After 12 minutes of play, the Sixers were in trouble, trailing 38-18. Their deficit would later expanded to 25 points halfway through the third quarter. With his squad vitally in need of a boost, Ish Smith rose to the occasion. He scored the Sixers’ first seven field goals of the period, and produced 14 points of his game-high 22 points in the frame.
The Sixers entered the fourth quarter down 10 points, 82-72, and pulled to within nine points, 92-83, with just over six minutes remaining in regulation. That development set the stage for Wall to step up. He assisted on an energizing alley-oop to Bradley Beal, then snapped off five straight points of his own. The push was enough to keep Washington in control.
In addition to Smith, the Sixers received helpful backcourt contributions from Isaiah Canaan, who tallied 18 points behind four three-point field goals, and T.J. McConnell. McConnell finished with nine points and four assists, but stood out most for his second-half defensive effort on Wall. Wall made his presence felt all over the court, tallying 18 points, a career-high 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Beal paced the Wizards with 22 points, while center Marcin Gortat added 21 points and 13 boards.
Brett Brown Said – On the determination the Sixers displayed in their 106-94 loss to the Washington Wizards:
“We have been down a lot the last two and a half years. That area isn’t shocking to me. How we respond to it is the great challenge that I’m proud of. You cut it to nine [points] on the road against a team trying to make the playoffs. Look at the numbers they had in the last three periods. I’m proud of that group. We responded to Atlanta. I’m proud of what we did in Washington.”
Jerami Grant entered the evening 11th in the NBA in blocked shots. Friday, he picked up two more swats on one third quarter sequence, bringing his season total to 77.
Isaiah Canaan positioned the Sixers for a strong third-quarter finish, drilling a late three-pointer to extend what would end up being a re-energizing 21-6 surge. Listen to Tom McGinnis’ Sixers Radio Network game call.
Notes and Quotes:
Before Friday’s match-up, Brett Brown expressed the opinion that Washington’s John Wall “is the fastest guy, the fastest guard” in the NBA. Ish Smith, Brown’s own point guard, didn’t disagree.
“John is one of the fastest in the league, with his strength, his power,” Smith said. “Him and [Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook] are…6’4”, 6’5.” They’re athletic, they’re big, they’re strong, and so, when they get into the paint, with their athletic ability, they’re finishing.”
“They are two of the fastest,” said Smith. He then caught himself mid-thought, and paused. “One of the two of the fastest guys in the league.”
Smith is a man who knows speed. It is, perhaps, his greatest NBA skill. He entered Friday’s visit to Verizon Center tied with teammate T.J. McConnell for the second-fastest offensive speed in the league, per stats.nba.com.
“You notice I said one of two of the fastest in the league, I didn’t say the fastest,” Smith joked. He went on to differentiate the ways in which he uses quickness, compared to Wall and Westbrook.
“Their strength and their power and stuff like that makes them different, to where as my speed is a little more jitterbug, quick, shifty,” explained Smith, who spent this past pre-season with Wall and the Wizards. “It’s an accomplishment to be in the same group as those guys.”
After the Sixers fell to the Atlanta Hawks by 38 points at The Center on Wednesday, Brett Brown mentioned several times on Friday that he wanted to see the Sixers recapture the spirit with which they played last Saturday, in their three-point loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Through the first thirty minutes of their contest with Washington, the Sixers were looking for a spark. Then, midway through the third quarter, Ish Smith put up his hand, and found his stroke, igniting the Sixers on a 21-6 run.
Prior to tip-off, Brown made clear the expectations that he and the coaching staff had set for the club..
“Just reminding them of what we deem competitive to be,” Said Brown. “When you use that word, I’m at an age and a stage where that’s the only thing that matters to me. When you talk about drafting somebody, trading somebody, retaining somebody, you can go all over the place, but to me, the single ingredient that links the great players that I’ve been around is competitive. Sometimes you can quantify that, ‘Do you rebound?’ Sometimes it’s a gut feel of just running back. Do people get back in transition defense? There are things you can chart with deflections, there’s things you can chart with just being physical. That’s life in the NBA. It’s a back-it-up league. And so conditioning our young guys on how do you back it up? Because if you don’t compete way, way, way more than you don’t, you’re struggling. That’s the single thing we want to flip.”
When it comes to meeting Brown’s demands for attitude and effort, veteran wingman Hollis Thompson feels he and his teammates are responsible.
“There’s only so much you can say,” said Thompson. He notched seven points on Friday. “We’re a young team, a lot of it has to come from us. So we have to hold ourselves more accountable , and we have to be more responsible to each other saying, we got to do this, we got to do that, in the flow of the game, because he can’t call a timeout every minute, although he might to. He can’t call a timeout every minute and get us back on page.”
The Sixers did manage to get on the same page in the second half. They confronted a 20-point after the first quarter, then outscored Washington by eight points the rest of the way.
Sixers’ power forward Richaun Holmes did not accompany the team to Washington, D.C. for Friday’s contest. Although the Sixers did not hold a formal, full-squad practice on Thursday, a day after their 124-86 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, several players did report to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to work out. It was during that session, according to Brett Brown, that Holmes turned his right ankle.
“When the low-minute guys come, we want them to sweat, we want them to get some level of fitness, not just running one-on-zero,” Brown said. “I’ve learned through all my development years it lifts their spirit, they want to compete. He was injured doing that.”
Holmes missed nine games in November due to a hamstring issue. The rookie is averaging 6.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per game. Holmes, a second-round selection from Bowling Green, also ranks second among his peers with a 55.0 field goal percentage.
“I wouldn’t say it’s severe,” said Brown, referring to the extent of Holmes’ ankle pain. “I wouldn’t say there’s any ligament damage. We had it tested. It’s just a serious ankle sprain.”
As of Friday morning, Brown did not expect to have Holmes’ available for Saturday’s meeting with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Sixers will be back at The Center on Saturday, beginning a three-game homestand with a 7:30 PM EST clash against Atlantic Division rival the Brooklyn Nets (12-38). Since last the Sixers faced Brooklyn, a 100-91 defeat on December 10th, the Nets have made some substantial adjustments to their infrastructure. One month and a day after that meeting with the Sixers, Brooklyn – sitting at 10-27 – decided to dismiss head coach Lionel Hollins, and reassign General Manager Billy King. The changes haven’t made too much of a difference, although the Nets did best Sacramento 128-119 on Friday. The win was Brooklyn’s third in the 14 games that assistant Tony Brown has served as Hollins’ interim replacement. Adding to Brooklyn’s recent woes was the right ACL tear that veteran point guard Jarret Jack suffered on January 2nd. Jack had been averaging 12.8 points and 7.4 assists per game. Brook Lopez tops the Nets in scoring, averaging 20.2 points per game, while former Sixer Thaddeus Young leads the team in rebounding, posting a career-best 9.0 caroms per outing.
TAGSCanaan, Isaiah, Grant, Jerami, McConnell, TJ, Noel, Nerlens, Okafor, Jahlil
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