The Wizards lost to the 76ers 120-112 on Friday night in their first game back after the All-Star break. Washington lost even though Philadelphia was missing Joel Embiid due to and injury, and didn’t have any of the players they acquired in their trade deadline moves.
In their absences, Robert Covington and Dario Saric stepped up for Philadelphia. Covington had 25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 made three-pointers, and 4 steals. Saric added 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Washington didn’t stumble out of the gates to start the game, but they didn’t get off to their best start either. They took a two point lead at the end of the first quarter, but that quickly evaporated when the reserves entered the game. Scott Brooks tried a few different lineup combinations with new acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic, but nothing worked as the 76ers went into halftime with a 61-49 lead.
Things got worse in the third quarter. Even though John Wall and Bradley Beal got the Wizards’ offense back up and running, they couldn’t cut into the deficit. The 76ers kept Washington at bay thanks to the easy shots they were generating on the other end. Look at how many shots they got in the paint during the third quarter:
The 76ers were able to stretch the lead out to 22 points with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter before the Wizards finally made a run to make the game competitive. Washington closed on a 22-10 run, getting the game to within 4 points in the final minute before the 76ers finally shut the door for good.
Thanks to Friday’s loss, the Wizards will go winless on the season in Philadelphia and 1-2 overall against the 76ers, despite Joel Embiid missing all three head-to-head meetings this season.
Look at this dunk
WHOA. @JohnWall. #WizSixers on @CSNMA+ pic.twitter.com/fuPZBaJ6KF— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) February 25, 2017
You’d think a dunk like that would suck the energy out of a building and catapult the Wizards to an easy win, but apparently not.
The bench is still a mess
Bojan Bogdanovic, the Wizards’ big acquisition at the deadline, only scored 2 points in his Wizards debut. Despite that, he was one of the better players off the bench for Washington in this one.
Trey Burke and Kelly Oubre combined to go 2-9 from the field with 1 assist and some very bad defense that’s hard to express in words or numbers. Ian Mahinmi scored 1 point and was a -8 in 7 minutes of action before leaving the game with back tightness. The bench as a whole was outscored by 23.
Bogdanovic will certainly look better as he gets more comfortable in the Wizards’ system, but he won’t fix the bench by himself. If Mahinmi can’t stay on the floor and they can’t get more production out of Oubre and the backcourt, the bench is still going to be a big negative no matter how well Bogdanovic plays.
Washington doesn’t start with their best foot forward
What makes this loss to the 76ers a little harder to swallow than your run-of-the-mill loss to a lottery team is that the Wizards’ upcoming schedule is not favorable. Their next game is against the Jazz, then they host the Warriors, and then they have two games vs. the Raptors.
If things don’t break right for Washington, they could start their post-break schedule 0-5, which would undo a lot of the good will and momentum they developed going into the All-Star break.