76ers rally to defeat Wizards

Jrue Holiday drives to the basket against Washington's Trevor Booker (center) and Kevin Seraphin.
Jrue Holiday drives to the basket against Washington's Trevor Booker (center) and Kevin Seraphin. (EVAN VUCCI / AP)
Posted: April 14, 2013

WASHINGTON - As Doug Collins walked off the court at the Verizon Center at halftime on Friday, two 76ers, Thaddeus Young and Damien Wilkins, had something to say to him.

"They said, 'Coach, you know we are going to keep fighting and competing,' " Collins said. "That was fun to hear."

Facing a Washington team that, like the 76ers, is playing out the remaining string of games on its schedule, the Sixers fell behind by 13 points in the second quarter and then outscored the Wizards by 69-45 the rest of the way, ending a three-game losing streak with a 97-86 win. The Sixers improved to 32-47.

However, the outcome of this game is meaningless. The truth of the matter is that Collins, who led this team to back-to-back playoff appearances, could be coaching his last three games with the Sixers.

A column in Wednesday's Inquirer, citing multiple team sources, said that management hopes Collins, who has one year remaining on his contract, won't coach the team as a lame duck in 2013-14 and resign his position.

Collins refused to address the topic on Friday, before the game or after it. Rather, he focused on the Sixers' not giving up when they fell behind early.

"We didn't practice [Thursday]," Collins said. "It would have been easy to come in here, throw your sneakers out there, get down by 13 and get beat by 20. And they didn't do that."

The players, however, did talk about the rumors swirling around the team.

"That is really the least of our concerns right now," said center Spencer Hawes, who finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and a pair of blocks. "We know Coach's passion. We're just focused on these last few games.

"That's not something we have any control of," Hawes continued, "so we are just going to keep playing for Coach, keep playing as hard as we can. Like I said, that's not our focus or very high up on our list right now. But if you have been around long enough, you hear stuff like that all the time. There are so many rumors from so many different angles that you can't pay attention to all of that stuff."

The Sixers survived an 0-for-11 shooting night from Evan Turner, who went scoreless in 24 minutes. Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 22 points and tied Turner with a team-high seven assists.

John Wall paced the Wizards (29-51) with a game-high 24 points.

Young, who has been hot lately, continued to play well, notching his 21st double-double of the season (18 points and a game-high 13 boards). Connecting on all but one of his nine field-goal attempts, Young also finished with a game-high four steals.

The sixth-year forward, who shared a moment with Collins as he left the court at halftime, supported Collins when the game was over.

"At the end of the day, I think we all have a lot of respect for Coach and don't want to see him go or anything," Young said. "It's just a rumor; nothing has been put on the table, nothing has been done yet, so we'll just see what happens at the end of the season."

Contact John N. Mitchell at  jmitchell@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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