The Washington Wizards nearly overcame a 22-point deficit against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, but their comeback bid fell just short and the Wiz lost by a score of 118-113.
Bradley Beal was terrific in the contest despite dealing with a facial contusion suffered in the first quarter from an inadvertent elbow from Sixers guard Jerryd Bayless.
Brad returned in the second half, knocking down 4-of-5 three-point attempts and all five of his free throws on his way to a 21-point night to go along with four rebounds and a steal.
Free throws were the story of the night, however, as Scott Brooks and the Wizards employed a Hack-a-Simmons strategy in the fourth quarter in an attempt to climb back into the game.
Brooks took advantage of Sixers rookie sensation Ben Simmons’ 56.6 free throw percentage this season and it nearly paid off.
Washington cut the lead down to three while Simmons struggled at the charity stripe. Simmons took 24 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter, the most by any player in NBA history for a single quarter.
The slow pace of play allowed the Wiz to sneak back into the game and led to their 48-point outburst in the final frame, which was their season-high for a quarter.
Beal knocked down a pair of threes and three free throws late to keep the Wiz within striking distance, but ultimately the fouling strategy resulted in Brad fouling out of the game with 1:42 remaining.
The Panda had to watch the final moments of the game from the bench and the Sixers were able to hang on for a narrow victory.
Brad approved of his coach’s strategy after the game because it gave the Wizards a good chance to win the game.
“I loved it. I got to trash-talk a little bit too, get him to miss a few. We definitely extended the length of the game with that, but that’s what kept us in the game. He would miss two or just only make one and we’ll come down and convert on a three or a two. We’ll take that any day, all day.”
After the game Beal described his facial contusion in more detail and said he would be getting more tests done to further assess the injury.
D.C. will head home for a one-game pit stop on Friday to face the Detroit Pistons and then head out for a five-game road trip. Tip-off is at 7pm ET.