76ers-Wizards Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 03, 2013
Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman doesn't seem overly concerned about John Wall's recent struggles or with his team losing another game. For the first time in a while, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins isn't talking about a defeat. The Wizards will try to avoid a winless three-game homestand on Sunday night when the 76ers look to end another lengthy skid. In six games since the All-Star break, Wall is averaging 11.2 points on 32.4 percent shooting and committing 4.7 turnovers per contest. The former overall No. 1 pick admitted after Friday's 96-88 loss to New York that he's been too passive, but Wittman is encouraged after watching Wall - who missed the first 33 games of 2012-13 with a knee injury - total 16 points and seven assists. The point guard logged a season-high 42 minutes with backup A.J. Price sidelined with a bruised right thigh. "That's what (Wall's) got to continue to do, play hard, play through mistakes, play through missed shots. And I thought he did that tonight," Wittman said. "Things will turn, things will turn for the better. If we continue the attitude and the play and everybody on the same page like we were again tonight, we're going to be fine." Collins hopes that's the case with the 76ers (23-34) after they snapped a seven-game slide with Saturday's 104-97 victory over Golden State. Evan Turner finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and All-Star guard Jrue Holiday poured in 27 to give Philadelphia its first win since Feb. 9 versus Charlotte. "Great, great win for our team,'' said Collins, whose team broke the 100-point barrier for the first time in 13 games. "We fought back (from 16 down in the first half), which is an incredibly positive sign.'' Philadelphia will now try to end a nine-game road losing streak - the team's longest since a 10-game skid Nov. 17-Dec. 16, 2006. The 76ers' 92-84 victory on Jan. 30 sent the Wizards (18-39) to a fifth consecutive loss in Philadelphia, but Washington has won five of six at home in this series. The Wizards, though, have lost their last two to visiting teams following a 10-2 stretch at home. Nene (sore right shoulder) could miss a third consecutive game, but Washington has done a nice job on the boards in his absence, rebounding each opponent during the homestand by three. "The NBA is a long, long season, so you're going to be down guys throughout the season," Wizards swingman guard Trevor Ariza said. "That gives everybody else opportunities to step up." Rookie guard Bradley Beal has done that, averaging 20.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in the last eight games after scoring a season-high 29 points with a team-best 11 boards on Friday. He also hit four 3s to set the team rookie record with 79. "My confidence is sky high,'' said Beal, third among NBA rookies with 14.2 points per game. Beal missed the Jan. 30 game due to a sprained right wrist. Former Wizard Nick Young scored 18 points in that game - his first against Washington - but he's questionable after missing Saturday's game with a left ankle sprain. If Young can't go, Royal Ivey could get a second straight start alongside Holiday after matching a career high with four 3s and scoring a season-best 17 points.
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