76ers look to extend winning streak when they face Wizards (Jan 14, 2017)

BY AP • January 14, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The "process" is starting to show progress for the Philadelphia 76ers. Washington Wizards star John Wall hopes his injured pinky progresses enough for him to shoot effectively when the Eastern Conference foes meet for the second time this season.

Before the 76ers (11-25) made the trip down interstate I-95 for Saturday's matchup with the Wizards, they downed the Charlotte Hornets 102-93 Friday for their third straight victory. Joel Embiid turned in his latest dominant performance, finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Philadelphia, which won just 10 games last season, has won five of its last six.

"I've been trying to change the culture," Embiid said. "I think people are starting to see that. We're winning games, and the way people view the Sixers, that changes."

Anchored by its rookie center, Philadelphia held Charlotte to 32.9 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers.

"I think we can beat damn near any team, playing like this," reserve center Nerlens Noel said.

Noel and big man Jahlil Okafor likely end up playing more against the Wizards because the 76ers plan on resting Embiid.

There are no immediate plans for the Wizards (19-19) to rest Wall despite new injuries. X-rays on the point guard's right pinky injury showed no major concerns, but it caused all kinds of problems in Wednesday's 117-108 loss at the Boston Celtics. The three-time All-Star shot a dismal 4 of 21 from the field as the Wizards fell back to .500 after posting a winning record for the first time all season.

Though Wall expects to play Saturday, he's spending his time working on solutions.

"It affected me big-time. Every time I was trying to shoot it was like the last pinkie was getting caught," said the right-handed Wall at Friday's practice. "I'm trying to find a way to stabilize it so it can stay closer into my other finger so it's (not) the last finger being caught."

Wall is also dealing with a sore left wrist. He also expects he'll deal with a lighter wallet following his postgame altercation. Boston's Jae Crowder exchanged words with Wall before making contact with the point guard's face. That led to a counter jab from Wall before the two were separate.

"A fat fine," Wall said of the expected repercussion. "A guy violates your space, you got to do what you got to do. I already know a fine should be coming so I'm willing to accept it."

Bradley Beal had no issue with his shot against Boston as Wall's backcourt partner had 35 points with six 3-pointers.

An injury kept Beal sidelined when Washington lost 109-102 at Philadelphia on Nov. 16. Embiid also rested that game, but Okafor stepped up with points.

The rematch marks the fourth straight game this week Washington's opponent played without star or key players. The Wizards beat the Bucks Sunday as Milwaukee took the court without Giannis Antetokounmpo and then faced a Chicago Bulls squad on Tuesday sans Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Nikola Mirotic. Boston didn't have four players available, including Avery Bradley, but fellow guard Isaiah Thomas' 38 points -- 20 in the final period -- did in Washington on Wednesday.

Washington rallied past Milwaukee and Chicago, but faded late against Boston as the Celtics outscored them 34-23 in the fourth quarter.



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