By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Philadelphia 109, Washington 102 – Box Score
Somebody break up the Sixers! For the second time in four games, Philadelphia was able to shake off its late-game woes and come out on top. Wednesday night, a Sixers lead that had been as much as 24 points in the first half had been whittled all the way down to 3. Dario Saric almost lost the handle, which would have been a very Sixers thing to happen. Instead, Saric scrapped his way to keep control, and the ball found its way to an unlikely hero, with Richaun Holmes draining a three to extend the lead to six and essentially seal the victory.
Just look at head coach Brett Brown try to maintain his composure and not break into an ear-to-ear smile. You have to be happy for these guys on nights like this one.
Brown had reason to be happy as a major coaching decision paid off against the Wizards. He swapped Ersan Ilyasova into the starting lineup for Dario Saric, saying that he wanted Saric to provide extra toughness and scoring to the bench unit. The move worked out for everyone involved. The Homie Dario recorded his second career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Ilyasova knocked down 4 of his 8 attempts from behind the arc for 16 points.
When Holmes and Jahlil Okafor both got into early foul trouble, the Sixers even slid Saric to center alongside Ilyasova in their own homeless man’s version of the Warriors death lineup. With shooting across every position on the floor, Philadelphia went on a 15-3 run that was instrumental in building the huge (and ultimately necessary) lead.
As for Okafor, who received the start with Joel Embiid getting the night off, it was easily his best game of the season. Jah shot 8-11 from the floor for a team-high 19 points, looking decisive with his moves to the basket rather than holding the ball for an eternity. More surprisingly, he actually made contact on a number of screens, including planting Markieff Morris to the hardwood to free Ilyasova for a triple.
More of that sort of play from Jahlil and I’ll almost not hate the nights when Embiid sits out. Almost. Both big men will be out there Thursday night to deal with Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves in a nationally-televised TNT game.
Other Game Notes:
- Sergio Rodriguez is just plain fun to watch. He had a game-high 12 assists, including this gorgeous, no-look feed to Holmes.
- Nik Stauskas going from a guy many argued should have been cut to a useful rotation player is perhaps the most surprising part of this season’s first month. Sauce dropped 15 points on 6-8 shooting and was a team-best +17 on the evening. Not only did he knock down a pair of threes, but he is confidently attacking the basket to good results. Stauskas has his swagger back and it’s wonderful to see.
- Robert Covington was harshly scolded by Brett Brown early in the second half for arguing with the refs and not getting back on defense. He was sent to the end of the bench like a kid being sent to his room without supper. RoCo did return to the game in the fourth quarter, but unfortunately, shot just 1-7 from the field.