Game Report 40: Wizards 107 76ers 99
THE GAME TURNED WHEN… The Wizards went on a 16-5 run to end the third quarter after the 76ers cut the Wiz lead to four. Into the fourth quarter, the run continued to 22-7 and a 19 point lead. The Wizards needed that big cushion because the bench would give most of it away later in the fourth.
THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN… 13-0 76ers run in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 100-92 before Marcin Gortat hit one free throw to put the Wiz up by 9 with 1:30 to play. Gortat then blocked a shot by Michael Carter-Williams — Gortat’s 4th block of the game — to start a fast break. Bradley Beal drew a foul in the lane and made both free throws to put the Wiz up 103-92 with 1:14 left. The teams traded points from that point on, with the Sixers hitting a few shots and the Wiz having to get their points from the charity stripe because they couldn’t score any other way.
THE GOOD… The Wizards had a team-high 12 blocks. Marcin Gortat led the way with 4, but six other players had at least one.
Washington dominated the glass 53-44, with every starter grabbing at least 5 off the boards.
The Wizards displayed a lot of good passing until the starters went out in the fourth quarter. Washington had 25 assists on 37 made baskets. with Beal, John Wall, and Trevor Ariza doing the best work.
Washington hit 80% of their free throws, part of a recent run of good shooting at the line.
THE BAD… The offense completely fell apart in the fourth quarter once the starters left the game. Jan Vesely scored on a put-back with 8:21 left in the game. The Wizards would not get another bucket until Trevor Ariza slipped behind Philly’s trapping defense and got a dunk with 19 seconds left. That’s right, the Wizards went almost 8 minutes of the fourth quarter without hitting a single shot from the field. And they still won. That’s bad for Washington, but far, far worse for the Sixers.
THE UGLY… You might think the bench was a good point for the Wiz because they outscored the 76ers bench 30-20. However, nobody who watched Washington’s bench collapse in the fourth quarter would come to that conclusion. Washington couldn’t hit a shot, couldn’t stop the Sixers and couldn’t stop turning the ball over and they allowed the Sixers to crawl back from a 19-point deficit to make it a real game. Coach Randy Wittman was forced to put his starters back in the game and they were predictably rusty, having gone to the pine thinking their day was over.
THE STAR… Bradley Beal did a bit of everything tonight, leading the team in scoring [22 points on 8-15 shooting], assists  and second in rebounds .
THE STUDS… Marcin Gortat gave you just about everything you could want from a big man. He scored 19 points on 7-11 shooting, he dominated the boards with a team-high 11 rebounds and he played terrific defense, blocking four shots. He badly outplayed Spencer Hawes of Philly, who missed 10 of his 15 shots and didn’t do nearly as well protecting the rim.
If you could say something nice about one member of the bench it would be Kevin Seraphin, who came out of nowhere to score 16 points on 6-10 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds. Amazingly, he made all four of his free throw attempts. He still collected 5 fouls in 23 minutes — nothing new there — but he gave Washington a lift most of the time he was on the floor.
THE DUDS… Washington’s starting forwards, Nene Hilario and Trevor Ariza, combined to shoot 5-17, with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 7 dimes. Not terrible, but the game wouldn’t have been put away earlier if the forwards had played better. Garrett Temple, Otto Porter, Martell Webster and Chris Singleton collaborated on the bench collapse in the fourth quarter.
THE BENCHWARMERS… At least Eric Maynor can’t be blamed for the bench problems since he never got off it. Trevor Booker missed the game due to injury.
THE QUOTES… “It’s not a magical thing, all of a sudden fairy dust is going to fall on us if we get over .500, we’re not going to lose another game.” – Randy Wittman
“Those guys got to learn. Guys that want to play or think they should be in rotations better show me out there where it counts. That’s the bottom line. You’re always on audition. You got to be ready to play each and every day. I’ve been in this league for 30 years and I’ve seen some wild things where you think a game is over. It’s not over. Maybe that’s a good thing for our guys.
“I think our guys thought when we got up 21 there that the game was over. We’re throwing half-court alley-oop passes that are going into the upper deck, turning and throwing (the ball) to the other team. … When you’re called upon that’s an audition each and every time especially if you’re not getting a lot of minutes. We’re in this stretch in January where I don’t have a lot of practice time where I can watch you compete. You got to use that time.” — Randy Wittman
AND WHAT IT ALL MEANS… Well, the Wiz are back to .500 again at 20-20. Can they finally get over the hump? Martell Webster was encouraging teammates to refuse to talk about that issue in the locker room after the game. However, it’s a legitimate issue. It’s not just about handling prosperity, it’s also about finishing in the top four in the conference and thus hosting a playoff series, probably against the Atlanta Hawks. And it’s about getting on a good run, winning a bunch of games in a row. The good teams are capable of doing that. Washington’s inability to string together a bunch of wins in a row is a pretty obvious sign that they are not a good team… yet.