In today’s match-up, the Washington Wizards (19-39) had to face the stagnant Philadelphia Sixers (23-35) at the Verizon center. Just for some background going in, Washington has been struggling to close out wins the past games against the Knicks on Friday and Detroit on Wednesday, both single digit losses at home. At this point in the season, hypothetically of course, the Wizards need to win a majority of their home games in order to better their chances at cracking the playoffs. Remember that is a hypothetical statement.
The Sixers having the former capitol of the nation, our former head coach in Doug Collins and two influential players from our organization’s past in Nick Young and the great Kwame Brown would help get people to buy tickets, but once the game tipped off everyone’s attention would shift to the Wiz kids.
If anyone attends a Wizards game these days, you would know about the ritual of standing up until Washington scores their first points. Tonight the fans did not have to stay on their feet for too long as the Wizards opened up the game with a four point play from Martell Webster in the corner; who finished with 16 points.
The Wizards offense for a majority of the first quarter was fantastic to watch if you appreciate patience and working the ball in the paint. Wittman seemed determined to attack the Sixers weaker front-court on offense as Emeka Okafor and Nene took a majority of the touches on the offensive side and scored with ease as Nene finished with 15 points and Okafor had a double-double 12 points, 16 rebounds. The Sixers on the other hand struggled from almost every spot on the court and appeared lackadaisical throughout the quarter. Their shots were rushed and out of sync with their offense. Doug Collins was flustered enough to take a tech after becoming frustrated with the refs after a questionable charging call.
At halftime the score read 49-50 with Washington commanding the lead. But what was most shocking about the first half was the point production from Jrue Holiday. Holiday only managed 7 points in the half, 14 on the night, and seemed flustered the most out of anyone on the Philadelphia roster. The second half would not be that much different for the UCLA alum as the Wizards continued to be aggressive on the defensive side of the ball; holding the Sixers to 19 points in the 3rd. But what kind of 6:00 Sunday game would this be if it did not come down to the final minutes of the 4th quarter.
As the teams went back and forth through the 4th, Jrue Holiday would make his presence felt with about 4:26 left as he went off for 5 straight points to give the Sixers a three point lead. The Wizards continued to chip away at the deficit but could not regain control due to constant missed layups and not being able to convert around the rim. As Washington started gaining momentum going into the final minutes, Bradley Beal went down hard on his right ankle and would have to leave the game with 2:06 left to play. With the Wiz Kids most prominent scorer injured, it seemed as though all hope would evaporate and we would lose yet again in the 4th. But our guy John Wall would not give up. After a missed shot on the opposite end, Wall broke out in full sprint to the basket and was fouled hard. He knocked down both from the charity stripe to give the Wizards the lead with 1:04 left in the game. The Sixers, of course, answered back to tie the game. Now, the scenario is that Washington does not have time for a two for one and our best scorer just happens to be injured. John Wall, out of all the people to hit a jumper, took the game into his own hands and knocked down the game winner with 4 seconds left giving Washington their 19th win on the season.
The Philadelphia Sixers were lead in scoring by Dorrell Wright with 15 points while Washington was led by Wall and Webster with 16 apiece. The Wizards next game will be against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night as they look to build on this win at home.