Story By: Sol Tucker
Photos By: Sol Tucker
Anytime the Wizards have faced the Sixers the past few seasons, it seems like they have always found a way to have their number at the end. Well tonight, call it a holiday gift or whatever, but a huge takeaway by Deni Avdija in the final seconds from Joel Embiid would be the best present they could get in a 116-111 victory.
Avdija return tonight was just in time to help the Wizards secure one of their best wins of the season so far. They beat the now 20-13 Sixers, who had a streak going of their own, winning eight straight games before they came to Washington.
Avdija played 20 minutes and pitched in with seven points and three assists. He said his back felt fine, but his physical conditioning was affected by the short layoff.
“I was a little winded, I’m not going to lie. Five days takes some time, it throws you off a little bit,” he said.
Prior to the steal by Avdija, a frustrated Bradley Beal appeared to leave the game in pain and head the locker room and not even finishing the final minute on the Wizards bench. Unseld described as left hamstring soreness. It was a strain of the right hamstring that caused him to miss a couple weeks earlier this month. In order for the Wizards to compete in the second half of the season, they will need Beal to take the load off Kuzma and Porzingis.
Heading down the stretch it appeared that the Sixers behind Embiid and James Harden were finally going to find a way to get ahead of the Wizards.
Harden who struggled for most of the first half found his groove late in the fourth and brought the Sixers within 3 points twice. Embiid, who finished the game with 48 points had a ton of pressure in the paint and eventually lost the ball on what would be the difference in the game. No stripped ball, Sixers may close out the game with a victory.
Prior to the game tonight, Wizards Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr. talked about the urgency of the remainder of the season.
“We talked about it as a group — we’ve got to make up some ground,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said before Tuesday night’s game against Philadelphia. “There’s got to be a sense of urgency as far as how we play.”
The Wizards turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter and still led 32-30 despite 16 points by Embiid. Beal had 11 in the period.
Washington does not have much time to think about this game tonight as they play again at home tomorrow night against the Suns.