Here's you recap roundup for the Washington Wizards 97-86 home finale loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, which officially put an end to any hopes for finishing with the ninth-best record in the Eastern Conference. But the race for 30 wins is alive and well!! For more coverage, head over to our Storystream and be sure to check out postgame interviews with Randy Wittman, John Wall, Trevor Booker and Garrett Temple, courtesy of Monumental Network.
Whether they were done in by fatigue, attrition or a simple lack of focus, the Washington Wizards were unable to capture a goal set since the all-star break. The playoffs were essentially out of the question when they started the season with 12 straight losses (and 28 in their first 32 games), but Coach Randy Wittman kept urging his players to keep pushing for ninth in the Eastern Conference.
The goal of finishing as the best of the worst may have seemed small, but it kept the Wizards motivated through a time of the season when it's easy for teams in their position to become preoccupied with the NBA draft lottery. Friday's 97-86 loss to Philadelphia at Verizon Center ended that pursuit.
Fading hopes of a last ditch push for ninth place in the Eastern Conference were erased in their final home game of the season, a 96-87 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers for their fourth straight defeat.
"Any time you don't reach your goal it's disappointing," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We gave it a shot. That's what we tried to do to keep our focus on moving forward here at the end."
With their coach's future in question, the 76ers awoke from pack-it-in mode Friday night, recovering from a 13-point, second-quarter deficit and pulling away in the second half for a 97-86 win, putting to rest the Washington Wizards' goal of becoming the best non-playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
The inability to make shots translated into a lackluster effort on defense Friday.
"We were getting a little down," said John Wall, who had a game-high 24 points on 9-for-21 shooting and seven assists. "Usually when we (make shots) we play defense and keep ourselves into the games and we didn't do that in the second half."
The Wizards were dominant in the early going, holding a seven point lead at the end of the first quarter and opening up a 13 point lead in the second quarter. The game would turn drastically once the Wizards opened up that double digit lead as the 76ers would close the half on a 20-8 run and head into the locker room down by just one. The third quarter was more Sixers as the Wizards shot just 7/25 from the field and the Sixers would hold a 9 point lead going into the fourth. The Wizards would never seriously challenge Philly in the final frame and the Wizards would eventually fall by 11.
The embarrassing part of Washington's recent slide has been the public declaration the team made that they were gunning for the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference (in case you are very unaware of the NBA's playoff structure, only the top 8 teams from each conference qualify. Perhaps you may consider this to be pointless effort. Perhaps you may be right). I for one have said that I'm on board with this pursuit, if only because it's more valuable for these young players to learn how to win than to marginally improve draft stock in what some people are calling the worst draft in the lottery era (since 1985), or at least since 2000. So the assumption was that while other teams would probably take their foot off the pedal, the Wizards could earn some wins and achieve the ultimate moral victory. After losing their 4th straight game tonight, that objective is officially out of reach.
It was nice to see Wittman let Trevor Booker come out and play with his friends tonight, and he did his usual "make the best of my minutes" moves, going 5-for-6 for 10 points. With Seraphin essentially useless on the court (he went 5-for-13 for 10 points), Booker was really the only option at the PF spot. However, Wittman really let Serpahin try and get into the swing of things in the second half instead of letting Booker continue his good night on the floor. In an even more confusing fashion, Wittman decided to throw Jan Vesely in while the Wizards were down 13 with about four minutes to play in the 4th quarter. If Booker is not brought back next season for whatever reason, he's certainly making an effort to make it known to other teams what he's capable of.
Should there be any doubt who is the better player between Wall and Sixers SF Evan Turner? Turner, who was drafted No. 2 overall behind Wall in 2010, had seven assists and four rebounds in 26 minutes but was 0-for-11 shooting. He failed to score. Wall had 24 points on 9-for-21 shooting and seven assists.
Speaking of bad performances... Evan Turner had a terrible shooting performance: 0-11 (0 points) in 24 minutes played. He contributed with 7 assists and 4 rebounds but that was just a terrible performance against a bad team. The sad part is that when Evan did try to attempt higher percentage shots at the rim he was blocked (2 blocked attempts). This is a result of going up too soft.
Facing a Washington team that, like the 76ers, is playing out the remaining string of games on its schedule, the Sixers fell behind by 13 points in the second quarter and then outscored the Wizards by 69-45 the rest of the way, ending a three-game losing streak with a 97-86 win. The Sixers improved to 32-47.
However, the outcome of this game is meaningless. The truth of the matter is that Collins, who led this team to back-to-back playoff appearances, could be coaching his last three games with the Sixers.
When John Wall missed 33 games because of injury to begin the season, the Washington Wizards picked up only five wins. In the 47 games with him, they are now 24-23 after the Sixers took a 97-86 decision in a less than meaningless game at the Verizon Center.
Wall finished with 24 points and seven assists, but the Sixers rode a balanced offense in improving their record to 32-47.
Doug Collins plugged in Nick Young early in the game, probably in hopes that he would want to show the Wizards some of the swag they were missing out on after losing him. It did not work out that way. Swaggy P missed every shot he took, and resided on the bench for the vast majority of the game. Dorrell Wright seems to be the consistent go-to guy that has knocked Nick Young out of the rotation. The two of them most certainly will not be on the squad together next season. If only one stays, it won't be the guy who calls himself Swaggy