Sixers Remind Fans of Fun in Win Over Wizards

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Philadelphia 120, Washington 112 – Box Score

We are coming off a trade deadline where not only did many people, myself included, think Bryan Colangelo made a huge mistake in giving away Nerlens Noel for cents on the dollar, but Ben Simmons was also officially announced as being out for the season, crystallizing the Sixers organization’s long-standing tradition of being dishonest about injuries with the public. So it would be understandable if Sixers fans wanted to wave their hands in the air and wipe their hands of this whole convoluted mess of a franchise.

However, at least when it comes to what happens on the actual hardwood, any time you begin to think you’re out, this Sixers squad pulls you back in. Playing a Washington Wizards team that has been red-hot the last couple months and entered the conversation among Eastern Conference contenders, Philadelphia absolutely wiped the floor with them, leading by as many as 17 before a referee-fueled comeback made a game of it late.

While the Wizards didn’t get much help from beyond their pair of dynamic guards, with Bradley Beal dropping 40 points and John Wall tallying 29 points and 14 assists, the Sixers were propelled by a complete team effort.

We’ve long talked about how getting rid of one of the centers would open up deserving minutes for Richaun Holmes. While I and many others would argue they traded the wrong one, it was still terrific to see Holmes go out there and put up 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Holmes had a bounce in his step all game long, finishing lobs with authority, racing out to trap pick-and-rolls, and generally proving to be a menacing force in the painted area. The fact that he punctuates nearly every big play with a roar makes for an even more fun viewing experience.

Also grabbing a double-double was Robert Covington, recording 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 steals. Rock knocked down 5-9 from behind the arc and is now shooting 45.7% from three in the month of February. His season average is back up to 33.3%, steadily getting back toward career norms after a rough start to 2016-17. Oh, and he’s flashing Kawhi-esque hands on the defensive end on a regular basis. Sign this man to an extension this offseason, Bryan, before you let another core piece walk out the door.

The third double-double came via Dario Saric, who accomplished the feat for the third straight game with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. Colangelo cited Saric’s emergence as one of the reasons for the Ersan Ilyasova trade, and I’m A-OK with all things leading to more playing time for the Homie Dario. There was a stretch where Saric looked unstoppable in the mid-range, and any time he had a smaller guard switched onto him, he put him in the torture chamber down in the post. It took a few months, but Dario looks fully adjusted to the NBA game and the results are fun to watch.

I hate to pick on him, because honestly, I feel somewhat bad about it at this point, but the turd in the punch bowl on the evening was starting center Jahlil Okafor. After not being traded by Colangelo despite being left off a plane for ostensibly that very reason, Okafor was a team-worst -9 plus/minus, and had more turnovers (3) and personal fouls (4) than rebounds (2) in 22 minutes. He stood around aimlessly so much that it looked like he was still sitting at home expecting to be traded. Colangelo might have felt the return was too low to pull the trigger on an Okafor deal, but with every minute he plays, that price is going to drop even lower.

The Sixers are right back in action tonight against the Knicks, one of the few teams with a front office situation more dysfunctional than their own.

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