PHILADELPHIA — Eddie Jordan watched his Washington Wizards fall 101-96 to the Philadelphia 76ers, their fourth straight defeat.
But the coach doesn’t like to think about losing streaks. He instead chooses to focus on each game individually.
“I know there’s some sort of streak, but I look at this game as a single event, and I look at the next game as a single event,” Jordan said. “I only think about the streak when it’s brought up.”
When he focuses on last night’s game, Jordan no doubt will be pained.
His Wizards (24-23) endured a seesaw first and second quarter and then took a 56-49 halftime lead. They led the entire third quarter, extended their advantage to 12 in the fourth quarter and then collapsed, allowing the 76ers (19-30) to go on a 17-0 run to take the lead for good and steal the victory.
“The Sixers really gave it to us tonight,” Jordan said. “That was a blitzkrieg. [Philadelphia coach] Maurice [Cheeks] did a good job putting his athletes out there. They denied us. They were quicker. They were faster, more athletic. Heck, we probably felt like Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.
“Although this wasn’t that big of a game, obviously, the pressure was too intense for us. We didn’t keep our poise. We didn’t see all the counters in our offense. I probably didn’t have the right lineup out there, didn’t call the right plays.”
Philadelphia forced Washington into 19 turnovers and recorded 24 fastbreak points to the Wizards’ four. During the 76ers’ explosive fourth quarter, Philadelphia shot 57.9 percent from the field while holding Washington — which missed 10 3-pointers in that period alone — to 25 percent shooting.
Andre Iguodala led Philadelphia with 20 points. Thaddeus Young had 17, and Rodney Carney added 14.
DeShawn Stevenson led the Wizards with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Brendan Haywood added 18 points, and Antawn Jamison finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Roger Mason Jr. scored 15 in the losing effort.
Caron Butler had just eight points and left the game late in the third quarter after aggravating the strained left hip flexor that sidelined him for three games last week.
Despite holding a lead for much of the second half, the Wizards struggled in the third quarter to establish an authoritative advantage over the 76ers. Each time it seemed like they were on the verge of putting together a run, the 76ers answered with a spurt of their own. Up 63-55 with 7:58 left in the third quarter, Washington saw Philadelphia score six straight and pull within two points before Stevenson hit back-to-back 3-pointers.
But the 76ers scored six more points, again cutting the lead to two points at 69-67. Then came the surge the Wizards craved. Brendan Haywood single-handedly took the Wizards on a 7-2 run for a 76-69 lead with 2:20 left in the third.
Haywood and Jamison each went 2-for-2 from the line in the quarter’s waning minutes, and Mason capped the third with a jumper that put the Wizards up 83-73 heading into the fourth quarter. The momentum carried over into the fourth quarter — but then suddenly halted.
Up 90-78 with just more than six minutes left, the Wizards missed their next seven shots and committed three turnovers, and the 76ers charged back.
They tied the game 90-90 when Rodney Carney came up with a steal and raced the length of the court for a thunderous dunk and then took a 92-90 lead with 4:07 left on an Andre Iguodala layup. Carney came up with another fastbreak dunk, and Louis Williams hit a foul shot to put his team up 95-90 and cap the run.
“It’s tough to have a game in hand like that and then let it slip away so quickly,” Jamison said. “We couldn’t get any shots. They did a great job as far as pressuring us with the ball, and it wasn’t really lack of defense because we never got a chance to get back.
“They did a great job of pressuring us, forcing turnovers and scoring on the breaks. We had to take care of the ball, and we didn’t do it.”
Last night at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia
SEEN AND HEARD
With the post-Allen Iverson 76ers not drawing much of a crowd these days, the loudest cheers came from a group of students from the District’s Hyde Leadership Public Charter School.
The 23 students rode the train from the District to Philadelphia as part of a Black History Month program offered by the Wizards and Amtrak. The students visited Philadelphia’s African American Museum and Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church — once a stop on the Underground Railroad. The day was capped with the Wizards-76ers game. After arriving at Wachovia Center, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, center Brendan Haywood and guard Roger Mason Jr. greeted the students, posed for pictures and signed autographs before the game. During the game, the students screamed to distract Philadelphia players at the foul line and cheered the Wizards after anything positive. …
Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks coached wearing only one shoe. Only a black sock covered his left foot, which was swollen and sore because of a bad case of gout.
BY THE NUMBERS
17 Unanswered points by the 76ers during a fourth-quarter run that erased the Wizards’ 90-78 lead and put Philadelphia up 95-90 with 2:44 left.
— Mike Jones
SAN ANTONIO SPURS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Verizon Center
TV/radio: CSN, AM-980
Probable starters: Spurs — F Bruce Bowen, F Tim Duncan, C Fabricio Oberto, G Manu Ginobili, G Damon Stoudamire. Wizards — F Antawn Jamison, F Caron Butler, C Brendan Haywood, G Antonio Daniels, G DeShawn Stevenson.
Injuries: Spurs — G Tony Parker (heel). Wizards — C Etan Thomas (heart surgery), G Gilbert Arenas (knee).