Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid Doesn't Get Nearly Enough Help as Sixers Lose to Wizards

Joel Embiid scored 32 points but the rest of the Sixers failed to show up in a 117-98 loss to the Wizards.

3 observations after Embiid doesn't get nearly enough help in loss to Wizards originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers fell on Monday to their first road loss of 2022, a 117-98 defeat to the Wizards at Capital One Arena.

Joel Embiid looked like himself, but it was a clunker otherwise for a team that entered with nine wins in its last 10 games. Embiid led the team in scoring for a 14th straight game with 32 points.

The Sixers were missing Matisse Thybulle (right shoulder sprain), Danny Green (right hip pain) and Shake Milton (back contusion).

Bradley Beal returned from a three-game absence because of health and safety protocols, posting 13 points and six assists. He was one of seven Wizards to score in double figures.

With Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. and assistant Pat Delany in health and safety protocols, Washington assistant Joseph Blair served as acting head coach. He was part of the 2019-20 Sixers coaching staff. 

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The 25-18 record Sixers will start a two-game homestand Wednesday against the Magic. Here are observations on their loss to Washington: 

Quite a challenge for Brown 

Beal got to stroll into his first shot of the afternoon, making a wide-open three-pointer after miscommunication by the Sixers in transition. 

He hit his second, too, wriggling free for a short shot off the backboard and then appearing to gesture that Tyrese Maxey was too small to guard him. Washington began the game 5 for 5 from the floor, took an 11-2 lead, and forced Sixers head coach Doc Rivers to call a quick timeout. 

While Thybulle normally would’ve been the main man on Beal, the Sixers on Monday used Charlie Brown Jr. as their first player of the bench and put him on the three-time All-Star. Brown signed his two-way contract just six days ago.

Brown competed hard, and he had nice moments slithering around ball screens and disrupting Beal’s rhythm while staying disciplined. Still, the Sixers obviously were worse off on defense without the player who guarded Beal last postseason and racks up steals and blocks better than any wing in the NBA. The Wizards burned the Sixers at times with dribble penetration and only committed three first-half turnovers.

Though Brown finds ways to help offensively besides shooting — he’s shown a knack for grabbing offensive rebounds and playing on the fast break — it would be great for the Sixers if he knocked down a few of the funky-looking jumpers he flings up from the right side of his body. He’s now 0 for 7 from three-point territory as a Sixer.

Embiid like clockwork 

Rivers backed his big man with an effective first-quarter challenge. Upon review, the officials turned a charge on Embiid into a defensive foul on Gafford, his second of the game. 

Gafford stayed in, though, a move that backfired for Blair. Embiid coaxed a third foul out of Gafford with 6:31 left in the first period, leading to Thomas Bryant’s entry. And, twenty-one seconds after he checked in, Bryant also sent Embiid to the foul line. Stopping Embiid legally sometimes seems an impossible task.

However, Bryant started strong offensively in his third game of the season following a year-long recovery from ACL surgery. His buzzer-beating elbow jumper gave Washington a 38-29 advantage after a quarter. 

Both Bryant and Andre Drummond were assessed technical fouls early in the second. Montrezl Harrell, who’d been ejected when the teams met in December, stayed clear of trouble until a fourth-quarter technical for an exuberant celebration of a dunk. Rivers also picked up a technical in the third when he objected to a dubious Embiid offensive foul on a dribble handoff. 

Just like during the Sixers’ comeback win Saturday over the Heat, Embiid’s jump shooting was stellar in the second half. He shot 6 for 9 from the floor after intermission and kept the Sixers somewhat close with two trailing threes in the third quarter.

Embiid received minimal scoring support until a Maxey spurt late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. This was a very rough performance from Tobias Harris (seven points on 3-for-11 shooting, one rebound, one assist), who was bogged down by foul trouble.

Seth Curry managed eight points and five assists, but he went just 0 of 2 from three-point range. Besides Embiid, the Sixers were 4 for 22 as a team from long distance.

Wizards' bench far superior

Georges Niang remained happy to fire threes, but the Sixers conceded a substantial advantage to the opposing bench for a second straight game. The Wizards’ second unit had a 63-27 edge over the Sixers'.

Niang played for an extended stretch in the third period after Harris was called for his fourth foul. He ended the afternoon with seven points on 2-for-4 shooting and four rebounds in 24 minutes. 

Furkan Korkmaz started and also played backup point guard minutes. He dished out five assists, but his 0-for-5 outing from long range hurt the Sixers. 

Isaiah Joe provided a bench highlight with a steal and ensuing lefty, and-one dunk, but the shorthanded Sixers lacked firepower on Monday. The Wizards looked incredibly deep in comparison.

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