Bradley Beal scores 21 points, Wizards beat 76ers
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman was concerned about his team's offense without All-Star guard John Wall. There was nothing to worry about.
Bradley Beal scored 21 points and Wizards shot a franchise-record 65.3 percent from the field in their 119-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
The Wizards rested Wall, ending his consecutive games streak at 208.
''I thought our guys were tremendous,'' Wittman said. ''We shot lights out. But we got some really good looks because of our ball movement.''
Ramon Sessions added 19 points, and Marcin Gortat had 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four blocks to help Washington win its fourth straight game.
Trying to earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1979, the Wizards remained a game behind fourth-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference and also pulled within one game of Chicago, which lost to Orlando on Wednesday night.
''This shows how deep we are as a team,'' Beal said. ''We definitely want our guys healthy come playoff time, and sharp as well. I think we're doing a great job of that.''
Robert Covington scored a career-high 27 points on 8-for-11 shooting for the Philadelphia, and Jason Richardson added 17. The 76ers have dropped seven straight.
The Sixers never led and shot 34.8 percent from the field.
''We started the game so poorly,'' Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. ''We subbed our first group out quickly trying to find some life but I thought the first half defensively was just poor.''
Wall had a career-high 18 assists in Washington's 92-83 victory at Memphis on Saturday night and averaged 15 points, 12 assists and 4.3 rebounds in the Wizards' first three games with the Sixers this season.
Nene joined Wall on the inactive list with the Brazilian big man sitting out his third straight game. But the Wizards had no trouble getting the offense going without two of their top players, shooting 53.3 percent from 3-point range and scoring 54 points in the paint.
The Wizards were shooting over 71 percent early in the first quarter as they threatened to set the NBA record (70.7). But Wittman was mostly pleased that his team had assists on 35 of its 47 made baskets, with Sessions and backup point guard Will Bynum each contributing seven.
''When we keep it simple and move the ball, we have guys that can make plays and make shots,'' Wittman said. ''And that showed tonight.''
After Jerami Grant's one-handed slam pulled the 76ers to 82-71 with 5:30 left in the third quarter, the Wizards hit three straight 3-pointers to build a 91-71 lead. They led by 27 before emptying their bench midway through the fourth quarter.
Washington's starters combined to shoot 26 for 36 from the field, with Gortat (8 for 9) and Beal (7 for 9) leading the way.
The Wizards were in control from the opening tip, scoring 35 points in each of the first two quarters and shooting a blistering 72.2 percent in the first half to take a 70-54 lead. Gortat scored 12 points in the first quarter, including three straight baskets to give the Wizards a 27-12 lead. Washington led by as many as 19 in the second quarter before Jason Richardson hit a 3-pointer right before the first-half buzzer.
Wizards: Paul Pierce returned to the lineup after missing the last three games because of an illness. The veteran guard had 10 points in 22 minutes. ... The Wizards have beaten the Sixers twice in the past week and in six of their last seven meetings.
76ers: The Sixers have their first seven-game losing streak since starting the season 0-17. ... Point guard Isaiah Canaan missed his third straight game with a right foot sprain after scoring 18 points in back-to-back contests.
Wittman had no idea the Wizards set a franchise record for shooting percentage after the game, and quickly brushed it off.
When told his team was close to the NBA record early in the fourth quarter, he deadpanned, ''What do you want me to do? Cancel the rest of the game.''
Then, he added with a smile: ''I'll take 65.''
NOEL GOES DOWN
Rookie of the Year candidate Nerlens Noel came out in the fourth quarter with a right ankle sprain after stepping on Bynum. He finished with five points and eight rebounds.
''I'm concerned,'' Brown said. ''My guess is he's unlikely to play in Chicago.''
Wizards: At Brooklyn on Friday night.
76ers: At Chicago on Saturday night.