Only minutes after the Washington Wizards lost badly to Philadephia, 103-83, on Monday night at Wells Fargo Center, Coach Flip Saunders and his staff marched into the locker room to speak to the team. Part of the conversation was to inform the players they would be getting Tuesday off despite the wretched performance in which Washington scored 14 first-quarter points to match a season low.
The rest comes on the heels of the Wizards’ third game in four days and the second of back-to-back games. Although players weren’t blaming the exhausting schedule for Monday’s debacle, Coach Flip Saunders cited fatigue as a factor for the third consecutive loss to Philadelphia this season.
“I think that we were probably tired today,” he said.
It showed in the first quarter, when the 76ers used a 19-4 run to gain significant separation and then poured it on some more. By the end of the first half, the Wizards trailed by 30 points, and about the only saving grace was they averting their most lopsided loss this season.
That was, by the way, to the 76ers, 120-89, on Jan. 13 at Wells Fargo Center.
Saunders did say before tip-off he would monitor minutes for starters such as John Wall, who had played no fewer than 38 minutes in the previous four games leading up to Monday. The blowout loss provided the ideal setting to get Wall much needed rest.
Wall played 26 minutes 6 seconds, scoring 13 points with five assists, four rebounds and four turnovers. It’s the fewest minutes Wall has played since the aforementioned loss to Philadelphia.
No Wizards starter, in fact, played more than 29:19, and none scored more than 13 points. Reserve Jordan Crawford led the Wizards with 17 points, 13 coming in the second half when the game was out of hand for long stretches.
Crawford’s jumper with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter got Washington within 18 points, but the 76ers quickly bumped the lead back to 22 and coasted the rest of the way. Crawford played 24:04, the most among bench players.
Guard Shelvin Mack playered nearly 22 minutes, and center Kevin Seraphin played 17 minutes and had six points and six rebounds. Roger Mason, Jan Vesely and Trevor Booker were other reserves who received double-figure minutes.
“We’ve been trying to do that all year,” guard Nick Young said when asked how the team would come back from such a disheartening loss. “We’re just going to take tomorrow off, get some sleep, get some rest and try to forget about it.”