Even though John Wall stole the show for the Washington Wizards with a huge bucket to seal a 90-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, the long-term story of the game is the loss of rookie Bradley Beal.
The Wizards’ rookie franchise single season three-point recorder holder went down with little contact in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and did not return to the game. Scoring 14 points in the game, Beal is a key-cog in the Wizards’ plans.
In a back and fourth first quarter, it was all about distribution for the Wizards on offense. Beal led all scorers with six points, but Martell Webster, Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza all had four each. Okafor probably had the most impressive quarter, with seven boards to go along with his four points. It was still a close game though, with few defensive stops in a quarter that gave the Wizards a 26-22 lead.
The high scoring continued in the second quarter. Despite the Verizon Center pulling an impressive crowd despite the late Sunday start time, chants of “defense” could be heard from Philadelphia fans. Washington continued to attempt to pull away from the 76ers, but just could not gain a lead. Hanging on for dear life finally came back to bite the Wizards as an Evan Turner layup made it 42-40 76ers just over halfway through the quarter.
Philadelphia then took a little bit of the control when Spencer Hawes hit a big three pointer, followed up by two free throws by Jrue Holiday to make it 49-46. Washington would answer back though. Following a Wall layup, an A.J. Price drive to the lane with time running out was called for goaltending and gave the Wizards back the lead with the score standing at 50-49 at the half.
Beal and Okafor both cooled off in the second quarter, which was the cause for the Philadelphia mini-comeback. If it wasn’t for Wall finding his game in the final moments of the half, the score would have been much different.
Continuing with the “defense is optional” mentality, the Wizards and Sixers continued to trade baskets in the third quarter. Washington finally established their presence in the contest late in the third. Highlighted by a Jan Vesely ally-oop dunk with Wall on the assist, the Wizards took a ten-point 70-60 lead. The Sixers started to close the gap to just two points, but another alley-oop slam by Vesely gave the Wizards back the momentum and a 73-68 lead at the end of the third.
Back-to-back baskets, featuring a way deep buzzer beating three helped the Wizards start fast in the final frame. Philadelphia would not go away and started to establish a presence on the boards to help them claw their way back into the matchup. A series of baskets highlighted by a Holiday three gave the Sixers an 83-82 advantage and their first lead since the third quarter.
With the Wizards climbing back into the game with under two to go in the fourth, Beal suddenly went down on the court. He would be carried off the court by two of his teammates and did not return to the game. It was a scary moment for the Wizards as they attempted to get back into the game. Thankfully for the Wizards, Wall didn’t need any help from Beal to win for Washington by draining a cold-blooded two to make it 90-87 and give the Wizards a needed home win.
Washington now head to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Wednesday.