But on this night, the Wizards basically gave the Sixers a lesson in Basketball 101.
The visitors had a 25-17 advantage in assists. That was a bit misleading, considering it was 20-10 at the half. They had a 60-40 rebounding advantage. Washington moved the ball well and took advantage of mismatches. And clinging to a two-point lead with 14.6 seconds remaining, the Wizards best player, John Wall, conducted his personal-foul shooting clinic. The point guard went on to make all eight of his foul shots to score his team's final points and clinch the victory.
The clutch free throws enabled Wall to post his second triple-double in as many nights and fourth of the season. Wall finished with 16 points, a game-high 14 assists and 13 rebounds to go with finishing 8 for 8 from the foul line. The two-time all-star's 12 assists in the first half are a Wells Fargo floor record for assists in a half. He did, however, have nine turnovers in the game.
"I thought we did a good job of trying to get into him," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Wall's turnovers.
But . . .
"He just commands attention," Brown added. "He's got the ball. You feel like at any moment, he can just take off."
The Sixers also had a tough time guarding reserve guard Marcus Thornton.
He finished with a team-high 18 points. Thornton hit a three-pointer out of a timeout right before halftime buzzer to give the Wizards a 58-39 lead.
The Wizards took its foot off the gas in the second half, resting their starters for long stretches. The Sixers got back into the game while taking advantage of the Wizards' 16 turnovers after intermission. But Thornton's 14-foot, step-back jumper gave them an 86-84 advantage and lead for good with 4 minutes, 8 seconds left.
Ish Smith finished with 20 points to lead the Sixers, while Nerlens Noel added 14 points, a season-high 16 rebounds and career-high seven steals. Meanwhile, Jerami Grant added 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks in first game back after missing the previous two due to a concussion.
However, Grant had a moment would love to forget with 26.7 seconds left.
With the Sixers down, 90-89, he stepped to the foul line and missed both free-throw attempts.
Then Thornton made a foul shot to give the Wizards a three-point lead nine seconds later. Wall went on hit a pair to make it a 93-89 game with 14.6 left.
Hollis Thompson closed the gap to 93-92 with a three-pointer with 12.9 left. But Wall was fouled on the ensuing possession to push the Wizards lead back to three with 10.3 remaining. The Sixers had an opportunity knot the score. But Canaan missed a three-pointer with 7.9 seconds left.
Then Wall added two more foul shots with 4.9 seconds left to make it a 97-92 game. He also hit a pair with 0.6 left to make it a 99-94 game.
Philly native Markieff Morris was ejected after picking up a flagrant Type 2 foul while elbowing a defensive-less Canaan, who was trying to attempt a breakaway layup with 6:00 left.