August 5, 2020

Washington Wizards Game 59 Review: Wizards embarrassing in loss to 76ers

Over the Washington Wizards’ six-game losing streak, small signs of promise have shown the potential for a light at the end of the tunnel.

On Friday in Philadelphia, that light all but disappeared.

With a display of “one step forward, two steps back” basketball, the Wizards were unable to maintain the tenuous leads they did grab, and fell to the 76ers 89-81. The Wizards have lost 11 of their last 13 games.

The Wizards trailed by nine after just three minutes, but used strong inside presence to narrow the gap to as little as two and trailed 28-25 at the quarter break. Deadline addition Ramon Sessions scored four straight to start the second quarter to give Washington (33-26) a 30-28 lead. A 10-4 run gave the 76ers a 43-40 lead late in the second.

Washington scored the first 11 points of the second half to take a 53-47 lead before Philadelphia called for time. DC was outscored 16-8 after that and trailed 63-61 after three. They did not see the lead again; the Sixers held Washington scoreless for 2:41 around the midway portion of the fourth and a Nerlens Noel dunk over several Wizards with five minutes to go was the dagger, if only psychologically.

Notes and observations

  • What probably did the Wizards in was going 6 of 19 from the field (including 2 of 10 from mid-range) in the third quarter when they had a chance to put a stranglehold on the team with the second-worst record in the league.
  • Marcin Gortat deserves praise for a game-high 14 rebounds, but was a minus-six and had eight points himself in a mostly forgettable outing.
  • John Wall and Otto Porter were the only Wizards that showed up for 48 minutes, combining for 40 of the team’s 81 points and 13 of their 20 assists (Wall with 11).
  • It is fair to blame a significant portion of the loss on the injuries to Kris Humphries (groin), Paul Pierce (knee) and especially Bradley Beal (right toe and leg). With half of the House of Guards (Get it? Because the new House of Cards season came out today?) in street clothes, it’s understandable for the team to be in the midst of a slump, but…
  • … There comes a point in every extended losing streak where the coaching has to be looked at. The first two losses were to Toronto and Cleveland, two of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams; another was to maybe the best team in the league in Golden State. But three of their last four losses came to Detroit, Minnesota and Philadelphia — three teams that have a combined record of 49-124. Put another way, they’ve looked like anything but a legitimate playoff contender against teams ranked 22nd, 28th and 29th in the league. And this isn’t a team that’s short on talent. Last year, Wall, Gortat, Beal and Nene authored the Cinderella story of the NBA season and brought the Wizards to the second round and almost got to the Eastern Conference Finals. You can ride out slumps and the injury bug, even both at once, but something is deeply amiss when you fail to show up (shoot 32 percent from the field and a measly 23 percent from three) against the 76ers, having come in losers of five straight. I don’t cover the team on a regular basis, so I don’t view myself as being in a position to call for Randy Wittman’s firing; it wouldn’t do any good anyway. With that said, though, there’s a difficult conversation that needs to be had about the future of this team if they want to revert to the championship contender form that they were in before the calendar flipped to 2015.
About Eric Hobeck

Eric Hobeck is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Capitals. Eric contributes to high school sports coverage at InsideNova.com. He served as sports editor of The Rotunda at Longwood University for two years, where he was also the men’s basketball beat writer. He hosted a campus radio show for three years and called basketball and baseball games for the station’s award-winning sports team. You can follow Eric on Twitter @eric_hobeck.

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