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Against 76ers, Wizards' Struggles Continue

Elton Brand, left, who recently returned to the 76ers after missing 17 games with an injury, tries to bull past Wizards rookie JaVale McGee.
Elton Brand, left, who recently returned to the 76ers after missing 17 games with an injury, tries to bull past Wizards rookie JaVale McGee. (By Miles Kennedy -- Associated Press)
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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 31, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 30 -- A dreadful season has reached the point where an opponent doesn't even need to play particularly well to beat the Washington Wizards.

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That was the case Friday night as the Philadelphia 76ers jumped out to an early 15-point lead and then overcame the customary Wizards push before pulling out a 104-94 victory in front of a mostly subdued crowd at Wachovia Center.

The Wizards (9-37) have lost five straight and 11 of their last 13.

The 76ers (23-22) improved to 14-8 under interim coach Tony DiLeo, who replaced Maurice Cheeks on Dec. 13, when he beat the Wizards in his debut.

"We're running out of feet to shoot off," Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said. "We've got to get a better start and we've got to share the ball more. We can be a much better team if we would share the ball and I'm going to preach that to them and say it to everybody: We need to share the ball."

Philadelphia shot a solid 54.5 percent and connected on nine three-pointers to win despite the absence of center Samuel Dalembert, who missed the second half with a left ankle sprain.

The 76ers also had to overcome several bouts of sloppiness, nine missed free throws and strong efforts from two second-year Wizards. Forward Dominic McGuire scored a career-high 16 points and reserve point guard Javaris Crittenton finished with 15 points and a career-high seven assists in his most extensive playing time since coming to Washington from Memphis via a trade on Dec. 10.

Shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson was back in uniform after missing 15 games with lower back pain. He missed all six of his shots and finished with one point and four assists in 23 minutes.

"The back feels fine but I was winded," Stevenson said.

The Wizards shot 43.8 percent and made only 2 of 13 three-point attempts. They got to 98-91 on a three-pointer by Antawn Jamison (25 points, 15 rebounds) with 2 minutes 10 seconds to play, but Philadelphia quickly answered with two scores by Andre Iguodala to close out the game.

Caron Butler added 20 points for Washington. Iguodala and Willie Green each scored 20 to pace the 76ers.

Afterward, the Wizards were on the receiving end of basketball's version of the golf clap.


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