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Listless first half dooms Sixers, as they fall to Wizards, end 8-game winning streak

A pretty poor performance from most of the team on Tuesday.

Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

And poof.

The Sixers’ eight-game winning streak vanished Tuesday night when they fell to the Washington Wizards, 116-111. The supporting cast let the Sixers down. Fourty-eigh points from Joel Embiid and 26 points and 13 assists from James Harden just weren’t enough.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First quarter

  • Joel Embiid was certainly ready to go from the tip. He put up 16 in the opening frame, as the Washington frontcourt failed to offer much of any resistance.
  • The rest of the Sixers struggled to start the game, shooting 3-of-11 in the first. Bradley Beal led the way with 11 points for the Wizards, who jumped out to an early lead, despite turning the ball over nine times.

Second quarter

  • Despite being effective on offense with seven early points, Montrezl Harrell had a pretty rough showing that led to a Paul Reed sighting. Harrell got beat repeatedly by Kristaps Porzingis and Rui Hachimura, while picking up three fouls in the process, making it an easy decision for head coach Doc Rivers.
  • It wasn’t all on Harrell. The Sixers’ collective effort was very poor on the defensive end. The clearest sign of this is typically on the glass. Once again, Washington won that category in the first half. They grabbed four more offensive rebounds than the Sixers and outscored them in second chance points, 11-7.
  • It was just one of those halves where nothing was working for Philly. James Harden shot 2-of-5 from downtown in the first half. Every other Sixer was a combined 0-of-8 and they went into the break down 11.

Third quarter

  • I am not a hand specialist, nor a nerve specialist, but it really feels like P.J. Tucker could use some time off. He just doesn’t look right.
  • It took some time, but the Sixers finally started to ramp up the intensity on defense. One thing is very clear about this defense: it goes as Embiid goes. Philly held the Wizards without a field goal for over three minutes and cut the lead down to three when Embiid checked out with four fouls.
  • Embiid’s fourth foul was a big turning point in the game. It came on a play where he appeared to set his feet in front of the restricted area, trying to draw a charge on Kyle Kuzma. It appeared to be a challenge the Sixers could win, but Rivers elected not to challenge it.
  • The Wizards’ lead quickly swelled back to nine entering the fourth. Danuel House Jr. had an especially rough sequence where he threw the ball out of bounds and then handed Corey Kispert a four-point play.

Fourth quarter

  • The way the Sixers finished the third was a real momentum killer, but James Harden picked it back up with 10 quick points as the fourth started. He was getting to the basket with an ease and frequency during this stretch that we haven’t seen from him much in a Sixers uniform.
  • The Sixers did get stops down the stretch — some Kyle Kuzma hero ball helped. But they lacked the offensive cohesion to pull it out. Their possession down three with 40 seconds left was a good example of this. A few hesitant swing passes led to a congested Embiid drive that he turned over in the lane.
  • The Sixers can rebound Friday night when they take on the Pelicans in New Orleans. It has been reported that Tyrese Maxey could make his return to the lineup after missing six weeks.

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