The Sixers began the night tied with Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Celtics played at Minnesota later Friday.
Once they fell behind by 23 points with just under eight minutes to play in the third quarter they never threatened. They trailed by 17 points at the end of the third quarter and never cut the Washington lead to single digits in the fourth.
Reserve guard Cartier Martin led the Wizards, who ended a five-game losing streak, with 20 points. He was one of four Wizards to finish in double figures.
Thad Young and Lou Williams led the Sixers (28-23) with 14 points apiece. The Sixers made just 36.6 percent of their field goals (30 for 82). Washington connected on 48.3 percent of its field goals (42 for 87). The Wizards also outrebounded the Sixers, 52-38.
In their first three meetings of the season the Sixers had little trouble dispatching the Wizards, defeating them by an average of more than 21 points.
But in this, a must-win against a team that has long since stopped playing games that are about anything other than accumulating ping-pong balls for the draft lottery, the Sixers began the night flat.
They saw an early 4-0 lead disappear in a first quarter in which they made just 35 percent (7 for 20) of their field- goal attempts.
Washington built its lead to 23-15 by the end of the first quarter and didn't look back much.
Having accomplished much of what they have done this season with a stout defense, the Sixers showed no trace of either defense or aggression in the second quarter. What was an eight-point Washington lead after one quarter quickly doubled to 16 points and, at its largest point in the first half, reached 22 points when Washington's John Wall sank the second of two free throws to give the Wizards a 53-31 late in a first half that ended with the Wizards comfortably ahead, 55-36.
Friday's game marked the first time that the Sixers faced Washington since it traded away starters Nick Young and JaVale McGee and acquired center Nene from Denver.
Nene has given the Sixers trouble in the past, and things were no different at the Verizon Center. Although he played just 25 minutes he finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.