Washington played with no energy all night until the fourth quarter when they gradually chipped away what was once a 24 point deficit. They even cut the deficit to just three points at a couple points in that period thanks to a bunch of “Hack a Simmons,” while three players: Bradley Beal, Tomas Satoransky, and Jodie Meeks all scored in double figures during the last quarter.
Kelly Oubre led the way with 22 points off the bench while Jodie Meeks and Bradley Beal added 21 each. For the Sixers, Ben Simmons led all scorers with 31 points, while Joel Embiid added 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Here’s what we learned.
Hack-a-Simmons almost worked
Simmons scored 31 points, with 15 of them coming from the foul line. He made just 12 of 24 shots from the free throw line in the last quarter in a bizarre strategy to get him to the line. In fact, that strategy forced Bradley Beal to commit all six of his personal fouls in that period, while Sato, Meeks, and Chris McCullough fouled four times each in that period alone.
For the game, Simmons scored 31 total points to lead all scorers. He also grabbed 18 rebounds, and dished 4 assists.
Simmons only averages 56.6% from the free throw line this season, which made him a logical target for such a strategy. I’ll also add that it’s kinda weird to see a guard be the target of such a tactic. And it’s even more bizarre because both teams played in front of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver tonight. He voiced displeasure with those types of tactics last season. The Wizards took that strategy to a new level tonight.
The bench is gritting its way into better form
When a team is behind by 19 points to start the fourth quarter, it’s easy to bench the starters and call it a day. But Hack-a-Simmons aside, let’s give the bench unit some credit.
Satoransky had his best performance of the season with a 12 point and 8 assist showing. Given how he played, I’d like to see him get some more time in the Wizards’ next game against the Pistons on Friday. Meeks also made timeline shots, scoring 14 of his points in the period as well. Hell, even Ian Mahinmi added four of his eight points in the fourth quarter, all from the free throw line.
The bench will never be the Wizards’ strength this season. But it’s nice to see that they reserves put a performance where they weren’t the “weak link.”
Games will be tough to win without the House of Guards
Bradley Beal got hit by Jarryd Bayless in the first quarter which forced him out of the first half. Though he was able to return in the second half, Beal’s absence appeared to give the Sixers a boost of confidence nevertheless. Philly ultimately came out with a 28-18 lead in the first quarter. If they weren’t as turnover prone as they were early on, the deficit would have been even bigger.
Nevertheless, without Beal — and John Wall who is out for the next couple weeks — the Wizards offense focused on Otto Porter. As you might expect, Porter took more shots, but his efficiency fell in the first half as he shot 3 of 14 from the field and scored just 8 points. Porter even committed two turnovers in the first half, which is sure to bump up his otherwise super-high TOV% rate.
Washington lost this game because they came out with no energy
Even if Beal was available in the entire first half, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. The Sixers outrebounded Washington, 35-14 in the first half and 64-35 overall. You just aren’t going to win many games getting doubled up on rebounds.
Even after the horrible first half, the Wizards still couldn’t make their shots for much of the third. Sure, Washington gradually made a bit of a run in the fourth quarter, but by then, it was too little, too late.
The Wizards head back home to Capital One Arena this Friday to play the Pistons at 7 p.m. ET. It’s their last home game before a five-game road trip.