5 Takeaways From Washington Wizards Game

Nov 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) reacts as he grabs a rebound in front of center Jahlil Okafor (8) and Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Washington Wizards by a final score of 109-102 of on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Despite Joel Embiid being inactive, the Philadelphia 76ers pulled out a victory on Wednesday night in dramatic fashion.

After Philadelphia led for most of the game, the Washington Wizards fought their way back and nearly completed the comeback, but in the end, the Sixers squeezed out a 109-102 victory.

Philadelphia was led by Jahlil Okafor’s 19 points, while Ersan Ilyasova contributed 16 and Nik Stauskas 15. Gerald Henderson scored 14 points and Dario Saric netted 13 with a team-high 12 rebounds.

For the Wizards, John Wall had a game-best 27 points while Markieff Morris chipped in 19 and Otto Porter 15 with 13 rebounds. Marcin Gortat was the game’s leading rebound with 14.

The win marked the second of the season for the 76ers, who are now 2-9 on the season, while the Wizards drop to 2-8 on the year.

Here’s five takeaways from the Sixers’ Wednesday night home-victory.

Nov 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric (9) is fouled while shooting by Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

1 – The Sixers are Capable of Closing Out Games

After leading by as many as 24 early in the game, the Wizards clawed their way back and made it competitive down the stretch.

Crunch time is an area that the Sixers have struggled with this year, and while it wasn’t the prettiest of wins, the victory will surely go a long way in the locker room.

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For the second time in four games, Philadelphia was able to deliver down the stretch on the way to its second victory of the season.

The Sixers have been much more competitive than many people expected them to be this season, but if they want to start getting national recognition for their improvement from last year, they’ll need to close out more games the way they did on Wednesday.

Nov 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Richaun Holmes (22) reacts in front of Washington Wizards guard Marcus Thornton (15) after scoring a three pointer during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

2 – When the Team Shoots Well, Good Things Happen

It sounds simple, but when a basketball team makes its open shots, good things generally happen. While the Sixers have struggled to do this with consistency so far this year, they shot very well on Wednesday.

As a team, they shot 54.5-percent (42-77) from the floor and 35.7-percent (10-28) from 3-point range.

Their biggest bucket came with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter when Richaun Holmes buried a 3-pointer to temporarily put his team up 106-100. The shot essentially sealed the victory.

Along with Holmes, who made all three of his field goal attempts (two were 3-pointers), Nik Stauskas (6-for-8 field goals, 15 points), Jahlil Okafor (8-for-11 field goals, team-high 19 points) and Ersan Ilyasova (5-for-10 field goals, 16 points) all shot exceptionally well.

Again, it might sound obvious, but when the Sixers make their shots, they’re a better team. And it’s something that’s been much easier said-than-done in the City of Brotherly Love this season.

Sep 26, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) during media day at the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

3 – Okafor is Finding His Stride

While recovering from knee surgery, Jahlil Okafor has been on a minutes restriction early in the season. He didn’t play exceptionally well in his first few games of action, but it appears that he’s starting to get into a groove.

For the second time in three games, Okafor set season-high’s for scoring. In just 20 minutes on Wednesday, he topped his previous season-high (18 points) with a team-high 19 points. He also contributed five rebounds and two assists in the victory.

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When Okafor produces like this, it allows the Sixers to be more confident while resting Joel Embiid.

Seeing as the 76ers drafted Okafor with the third overall pick in last year’s draft, it’s definitely a positive when he has big nights like he had on Wednesday.

Nov 5, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) controls the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 102-101. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

4 – Ilyasova Can Really Shoot

The main reason that Philadelphia traded for Ersan Ilyasova earlier this season was because the team needed a shooter, and that’s what he does best.

But it’s hard to imagine that anyone expected him to be this good of a shooter.

Heading into Wednesday’s game, Ilyasova had connected on 41.7-percent of his 3-point range attempts (up from 25-percent in his first three games of the season with the Oklahoma City Thunder).

During Wednesday’s game, it was more of the same as he drained four of his eight 3-point attempts and finished with 16 points. He also contributed four rebounds in 26 minutes of play during his first start in a Sixers uniform.

It’s safe to say the organization doesn’t regret trading for him.

Nov 7, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) waits to enter the game against the Utah Jazz during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

5 – The Sixers Would Have Benefitted From Embiid’s Presence

It’s not exactly a secret that the Sixers are being cautious with their most prized possession, and Wednesday night was no exception.

With Embiid still not playing in back-to-back’s, and with the team heading to Minnesota on Thursday night, the organization decided it would be more beneficial to sit him against the Wizards. Instead, he’ll take the court for his second away game of the year against the T’ Wolves.

Although the Sixers were able to win with Embiid sidelined, he’s still their best overall player, and they certainly would have benefitted from his presence on both ends of the floor.

Simply put, they’re just a better team with Embiid on the floor.

The Wizards racked up 11 offensive rebounds (40 total) along with 16 second-chance points, and it’s hard to imagine they would have reached even half of those totals with Embiid active.

The Sixers’ next game will be a nationally televised contest on TNT, with the tipoff slated for 8:00 p.m.

With Embiid rested and ready to go, it’s possible that the 76ers could start their first winning streak of the young season.

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