- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — The Washington Wizards hoped that their recently improved play — and a few close losses — might actually mean something.

Against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that has owned them in every game this season, they were hoping it would mean a competitive game, if not a win.

That hope was gone before the first quarter was over. The Wizards were blown out from start to finish, and lost to the 76ers 103-83 on Monday night. The 76ers improved to 12-5 while the Wizards fell to 2-15.

“What was disappointing was that I thought we would have come out with a better energized effort early,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “We fell behind, our heads went down. This is a team thats beaten us a lot.”

The 76ers set the tempo, got the shots they wanted, and dominated nearly every phase of the game. The Wizards tied their low of 14 points in the first quarter, and set a low of 32 points for the first half.

“To their credit, they executed and shot the ball well,” Saunders said. “We just never got into it. Our bigs never got into it. It’s very difficult when you’re trying to play catch up, because then you’re trying to play more of a tempo that they want to play, instead of the tempo that you want to play.”

Jordan Crawford led the Wizards with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting from the floor, and John Wall added 13, hitting five of 11 shots. But the 76ers doubled the Wizards assist total, 30-15, and out-rebounded them, 46-38.

Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday led the 76ers in scoring, both with 17, and Jodie Meeks added 15.

“I think it’s the way they play,” Crawford said. “They just always force us to just play bad basketball, really. They just attack us from all ends, offense and defense. They don’t give up any easy shots, which frustrates us, and then we go back to playing one-on-one.”

As for Wall, he’d like to put this game in the history books, and move on.

“[We have to] just go back to playing basketball, to playing the way we were before.”

A telling moment came just before the start of the second half. The teams were warming up, except for Wall, who was sitting alone on the Wizards bench. His expression was a cross between shock and disbelief; his team down by 30.

For a brief moment, 76ers forward Evan Turner came over to Wall, and said something only the two of them could hear. Wall cracked a slight smile.

“I still got my same confidence,” Wall said. “We’ve got to play the way we want to play basketball and give us an opportunity to win these games.”