The 76ers tried to play their game, running about the court with chaos in mind, but the Wizards happily let things come to them in a 107-99 win on Martin Luther King Day. A late rally by Philadelphia made things far more interesting than they ever should've been, but it's back to .500 for John Wall and company.
Considering the direction this game appeared to be taking after the third quarter, we should probably start by talking a little about the end of the game. As Mike discussed last week, Randy Wittman's shallow rotation has some dangerous implications -- on Monday, the team cratered after its best players hit the bench.
It might be a sort of "chicken and egg" question whether the players struggle because Wittman doesn't play them or they never played because they don't deserve to, but what happened in the fourth quarter continues a pattern. These guys hardly play, and understandably struggle to quickly get going when they do.
Facing the fastest-paced team in the league, Philadelphia wanted a frenetic game. Against guys who don't play much, it worked like a charm, quickly evaporating the Wizards' lead. The answer probably isn't simple, but an inconsistent rotation continues to cause problems.
Going back to the first half, this was simply a sloppy affair, the ball often bouncing back and forth between the two teams without a shot actually going up.
With neither team playing great defense, the Wizards got out to a 61-51 lead at halftime, led by Bradley Beal's big second quarter. With Sixers guard Michael Carter-Williams focused on stopping Wall, Beal was able to consistently find opportunities against the defense and capitalized with an 8-of-15 shooting effort. His well-rounded effort included 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Carter-Williams was admittedly electric for Philadelphia, putting up 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. He shot 13-of-22 from the field and often carved the Wizards' defense, hitting a number of tough layups while taking advantage of his length.
A lack of support for the rookie guard ended up costing the Sixers, as the rest of the team shot a combined 36 percent from the field.
With Philly often playing smaller lineups featuring their many guards -- Carter-Williams, Evan Turner, James Anderson, Hollis Thompson, Elliot Williams -- the Wizards held a 53-44 advantage on the boards. Marcin Gortat finished the game with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
But ultimately, a good win became slightly less impressive due to those fourth quarter issues. When we talk about the rotation and why it's not as simple as just playing the best eight guys every night, it's because of stuff like this. So let's all be happy to get back to .500, but figuring out the rotation remains a big question mark in mid-January.