Instant Replay: Sixers 109, Wizards 102

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Instant Replay: Sixers 109, Wizards 102

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WASHINGTON -- Knocking off the two-time champion Miami Heat was old news for the Sixers on Friday. They were on to the next challenge.

The Sixers got down by double digits early before putting together a gritty second half to claim a 109-102 win over the Washington Wizards. The win moved the Sixers to 2-0 for the first time since 2006-07.

Thaddeus Young was masterful, scoring 29 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Evan Turner added 23 points in the win.

John Wall had the Sixers on their heels at the outset. Washington’s point guard shot 6 for 6 in the first quarter to score 15 points. He finished the game with 26 points.

The Wizards were without starting center Nene, who was sidelined with a sore left calf. Marcin Gortat replaced him in the lineup.

Turning point
Wall came down the court midway through the fourth quarter and penetrated the lane, only to put up an arrant floater.

The Sixers pushed the ball the other way and rookie Michael Carter-Williams swished a three to give the Sixers their first lead of the game at 92-89.

Follow the leader
Wall had been thinking about his matchup with the Carter-Williams since the Wizards’ season-opening loss to the Detroit Pistons.

The PG had 20 points and 11 assists in that defeat. In his locker room all the talk was about how spectacular MCW had been in his debut.

Wall assured the rookie would not come near his stellar numbers from Wednesday’s debut against the Heat.

Wall added six assists and five rebounds to his 26 points. Carter-Williams had 14 points, five assists and three rebounds. However, the Sixers' rookie point guard had the stronger finish and came away with the victory.

Stat-egic
The Wizards had 14 fast-break points in the first quarter and shot 4 of 6 from three-point range. By contrast, the Sixers had just two points on the break in the period and were 0 for 9 from long range.

The Wizards finished with 34 fast-break points to the Sixers’ 20.

The Sixers’ three-point defense did improve as the game went along. The Wizards finished 9 for 25 from deep in the game.

Take a bow
Spencer Hawes scored 16 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and handed out five assists. Hawes hit two huge outside shots in the fourth quarter when the Sixers took control, including a three-pointer to put them up 101-92 with 3:49 to play.

What’s next?
The Sixers play their first back-to-back games of the season when they return home for Saturday night’s matchup against the Bulls.

Chicago comes to town with a 1-1 record. Derrick Rose is averaging 15 points in his first two games back after missing all of last season. He is shooting 28.9 percent from the field, although he did hit the Bulls’ game-winner in Thursday’s victory over the New York Knicks.

Joel Embiid admits to aggravating foot injury after 2014 surgery, almost quitting

Joel Embiid admits to aggravating foot injury after 2014 surgery, almost quitting

Joel Embiid trusts the Process, more so than anyone — the process of patience.

After sitting out two whole seasons because of foot injuries, Embiid learned the importance of patience the hard way.

Appearing on a special "Next Generation" of NBA TV's Open Court, Joel Embiid opened up about how he aggravated the fracture in his foot that cost him the 2015-16 season.

"I didn't know how to deal with patience," Embiid said on the roundtable discussion, which also included Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker and D'Angelo Russell.

"I just wanted to do stuff, that's why I think I needed a second surgery. Because after my first one, I just wanted to play basketball again. I just wanted to be on the court and I pushed through what I wasn't supposed to.

"At one point I thought about quitting. I just wanted to come back home and just forget everything."

Embiid went on to discuss the Sixers' turnaround this season — notably their improvements in crunch time — and his mindset during his recovery. Watch the full clip below. 

When asked which player he models his game after, Embiid went with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon.

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

With the NBA's glorified exhibition in the rearview mirror, we reenter reality of the remaining NBA season. The Sixers still are looking for suitors for Jahlil Okafor while questions swirl around about the health of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. 

Some claim they are tanking still, and if those people are talking about the recent NBA power rankings then they would be right. 

Games before the All-Star break
Last Monday and Wednesday the Sixers split their two games before the break, beating the Hornets and losing to the Celtics. 

Dario Saric continues to be the Sixers' most productive player in the absence of Embiid. In the short week, he averaged 19 points (a team leader in that category both games) and 11 rebounds. 

T.J. McConnell continues to control the floor at the point, dishing out seven assists against the Hornets and eight against the Celtics. 

An inability to finish has been the story for the Sixers without Embiid. The Sixers led by one at the half against the Hornets and were tied with the Celtics at the midway point. These are good signs, but these guys are far from being contenders in the east. The experts agree. 

What's next
Only two games this week for the 76ers: Friday at home against the Wizards (7 p.m./CSN) and on the road on Sunday to play the Knicks (7:30 p.m./CSN).

What the experts say
ESPN’s Marc Stein had some fun with his rankings this week using tweets and memes to describe a team’s current situation. The Sixers dropped from 20 to 23 in his rankings — not a significant drop but a drop nonetheless. 

He used this one in his evaluation of the Sixers:

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann bumped the Sixers up from 22 to 21 this week. He sees great improvement in Saric’s game stating: “Saric has already shown a lot of improvement and TLC, with his length on the perimeter, could prove to be a great fit next to the other core pieces if he can knock down shots.”

He added a positive thought on the Demarcus Cousins trade and how the Sixers still made out well even though they were not able to ship Okafor to the Pelicans. 

“The Sixers lost a potential trading partner with the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans, but still came out a winner in the deal, because they can swap first round picks with the Kings this year and own Sacramento's pick (with no protections) in 2019.”

Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes did not move the 76ers from the 21 spot on his list last week. He writes that he is intrigued with this processing team: “Sorry, but I'm never going to stop being delighted by the Sixers finding ways to win.”

He made his prediction for games won by the Sixers if they get Embiid back on the court: “It's hard to know what Simmons might bring, but Embiid's contributions are well understood. If he makes it back and looks healthy, Philly could easily win 30-plus games.”

Finally, Fox Sports’ Andrew Lynch dropped the Sixers from 27 to 28 – yikes! His outlook is very pessimistic as he looks exclusively at the injuries of Embiid and Simmons. He writes that a complete shutdown of Simmons would make sense as the season’s end gets closer by the day.