Regardless of their woeful record and eye toward the future, the Philadelphia 76ers are tenacious.
This time, it resulted in a victory.
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Nerlens Noel had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the 76ers’ 89-81 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
"We’re a chippy, gritty team that’s going to go out there and compete every night," Noel said.
Robert Covington added 13 points and Jason Richardson had 12 to help Philadelphia snap a five-game losing streak and win for the first time since trading Michael Carter-Williams. The 76ers are 13-45.
John Wall scored 21 points on 7-of-26 shooting for Washington. Otto Porter added 19 and Ramon Sessions had 14. The Wizards have lost six in a row and 11 of 13.
The Wizards set a season low for points Wednesday night in a 97-77 loss to Minnesota and weren’t much better against Philadelphia, the second-worst team in the NBA.
"It’s a tough stretch," Wall said. "The main thing is we have to get back to playing the right way, and until we do that we’re going to keep losing games."
Wall missed both of his 3-point attempts Friday and has missed 20 of his last 23 long-range shots. He was coming off a season-low five-point game against Minnesota.
"Everybody has to look themselves in the face and say, ‘What can I do better?’" Wall said. "Not stat-wise, but as a basketball player and a person. ‘What can I do to help this team win?’"
Wall was called for a Flagrant 1 foul on Thomas Robinson’s dunk attempt 1:50 into the final quarter.
Philadelphia opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run to take a 69-61 lead. Washington got within two points on Sessions’ 3-pointer with 7:16 left, but Philadelphia pushed its lead back up to six, 79-73, on Richardson’s 3 with 3:10 left. Washington never would get closer than four the rest of the way.
Washington followed Wednesday’s poor performance from the field against Minnesota, where it shot 37.9 percent, to an even-worse 35.3 percent against the 76ers. But the Wizards say problems lie deeper than misfiring on field goals.
"We’re not making shots, but we’re not playing confident," coach Randy Wittman said. "We’re short-cutting everything and to get out of a rut you’re in, you can’t do that. Until we stop doing that and play more focused and execute the way we’re supposed to execute, it’s going to stay like this." Said Wall, "Everybody can say we’re not making shots. That’s not the key to losing games. We won games earlier in the season not making shots. It’s a time where everybody has to play better."
The departure of Carter-Williams, once thought to be among the centerpieces of the 76ers’ rebuilding project, has placed more responsibility on Noel.
"It’s the added responsibility after trades were made, that he’s embraced maybe more of, if you will, an important role," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. "You’re looking around, it’s you. We need you."
Said Noel of the new role, "Yeah, definitely I feel (more responsibility) now – not only on the court but in the locker room as well."
DIFFERENT THIS TIME
Philadelphia suffered a 111-76 blowout at Washington on Jan. 19 in the only other meeting between the teams this season.
"I felt like we were a high school team compared to them," Brown said. "We were out-talented that day, we were out-physicaled. They were men. That was a disturbing game when you step back and look at it. That wasn’t really even a game.
"To respond however many games later, weeks later, with this effort we had tonight, I give them credit. Defense was the thing that set the tone."
Wizards: Paul Pierce was out for the second consecutive game because of a bruised knee. … Bradley Beal missed his eighth straight game due to a stress fracture in his right leg.
76ers: Thanks in part to Dollar Dog Night and a postgame gospel concert, the 76ers had one of their best crowds of the season with 18,089 fans. Philadelphia’s average attendance entering was 14,125. … Noel had a highlight-reel block on Marcin Gortat with 5:11 left in the third quarter. Noel finished with three blocks. … Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin attended the game.