Wizards are dusted by 76ers and fall third in a row


PHILADELPHIA — The Washington Wizards found themselves in dangerous territory as they entered Sunday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center. They had finally slipped below play-in tournament competition after a shaky streak, visiting a red-hot Philadelphia 76ers team with an MVP candidate still working on his case for honor.

The Wizards’ 112-93 loss, their third straight loss and fifth in six games, left them 12th in the Eastern Conference, 31-37. The Wizards had no answer for Joel Embiid, the mighty 7-footer who contributed to his MVP streak with 34 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks. Embiid hasn’t even scored 30 points in a game this month, and he dominated defensively in what was a poor shooting night for the Wizards.

For the first time in a week, the Wizards’ thirst for victory wasn’t as important as their talent, and they just couldn’t match Philadelphia (45-22).

Buckner: Wizards keep blowing leads — and opportunities to make progress

Bad offense was the main culprit. Washington shot 40.5 percent from the field, and Bradley Beal (13 points) was the top scorer in the Wizards’ core trio.

“Many of these situations we just couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm. We couldn’t capitalize,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. “You gotta give them credit for being a good defensive team. But we had allowed them to defend us that way, not finding action, not moving the ball and just setting up and stagnating.

Embiid filled the stat sheet on offense. On defense, he was often part of a double team on Beal, forcing the guard to use limp shots from mid-range. Washington shot 6 to 26 from the three-point line and never regained control after the 76ers forged a 14-point lead in the first nine minutes.

The team behind the team makes sure the wizards are happy and safe

“He’s a willing defender,” Beal said of Embiid. “That’s half the battle [and with his] Size and his ability to change shots and being able to control the boards and rebounds makes it difficult. He changes his pick and roll reporting, I know he was more alert and aggressive with me at times. … He’s doing a really good job of shaking it up and making us think.”

Kyle Kuzma had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Kristaps Porzingis added nine points. Unseld pulled his starters into play at 7:15.

With their main trio struggling, the Wizards relied on Corey Kispert to fill out offense. Kispert hit his career-high 25 points in 9-for-13 shooting, including three threes. The second-year guard has been playing well of late but appeared conflicted over his best night in a long time given the team’s difficulties.

“It’s mixed feelings, isn’t it? You play really well personally, but I thought we really struggled as a team. So it’s hard to digest,” Kispert said. “You feel great right away, but you can’t be too high or too low. You have to be realistic. We weren’t ready to play today. We were floored [throughout the roster]. But for me personally, shots were fired at the end. A bit of a two-sided thing.”

Here’s what else you should know about the loss of the wizards:

Positioning of the Eastern Conference

The Wizards now sit east behind the Pacers at 11th (31-37) and the Chicago Bulls at 10th (31-36). They own a 1-2 record against Indiana.

“We don’t look around and don’t need help from other teams in the league,” said Kispert. “If we win games we’re in and if we lose games we’re out. It is really that easy. Every day as we get into the gym until the end of the season we have to fight and fight for everything.”

Taj Gibson left the game with a non-covid illness in the third quarter after playing six minutes and looked visibly ill in the dressing room afterwards.

Kuzma also checked out at 8:54 in the third quarter after running into the brace and hearing what he described as a “pop” sensation in his lungs. The forward said it was a scary moment. A few minutes later he was able to get back into the game.

Porzingis’ nine points was his second-worst game of the season after he scored just seven points in a December 23 game against Sacramento.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/03/12/wizards-sixers-embiid-beal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_homepage Wizards are dusted by 76ers and fall third in a row

Ian Walker

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