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Once again, Sixers not at home in Washington

WASHINGTON - Considering how dreadful the Washington Wizards have been over the last several seasons, the Verizon Center seems like a strange place for the Sixers to be snakebitten.

WASHINGTON - Considering how dreadful the Washington Wizards have been over the last several seasons, the Verizon Center seems like a strange place for the Sixers to be snakebitten.

But during the 2010-11 season, the Sixers were burned twice in the same month on late-game oddities that led to losses against the Wizards.

On Nov. 2, 2010, Wizards journeyman Cartier Martin drained a 26-footer at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.

Led by then-Wizards rookie John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick who had 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals, the Wiz won in overtime.

Then on Nov. 23, Wall scored 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including three consecutive free throws to send the game into overtime. Nick Young, who now plays for the Sixers, then sank a game-winning three-pointer with 7.6 seconds left in the extra period as Washington won.

So on Sunday, when things got tight for the Sixers in the fourth quarter down in D.C., the last thing the Sixers wanted was to see Wall with the ball.

The oft-injured Wall scored the final six points as the Wizards beat the Sixers, 90-87.

With the Sixers leading 87-84 with 1 1/2 minutes remaining, Wall made an 18-footer. He then put the Wizards ahead 88-87 with two free throws with 1:04 left.

Finally, Wall put the dagger in the Sixers by isolating, running the shot clock down to nearly its last tick, and then draining a 20-footer with 4.9 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

"We have some strange things happen to us in Washington," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "All in all, we were in great position to win this game. We just couldn't execute down the stretch.

"You have to tip your hat to the Washington Wizards. They played great tonight. Our guys gave great effort."

When a season is crumbling, success begins to be measured by minuscule achievements.

After beating Golden State on Saturday to end a seven-game losing streak, the Sixers got off the train Sunday in Washington with their sights on the extremely modest accomplishment of winning consecutive games.

The last time the Sixers did that was exactly a month ago when they matched a season-high three-game streak with victories over Washington, Sacramento and Orlando.

The Wizards (19-39) were as good a team as any to start a winning streak against.

Unfortunately, the Sixers (23-35) looked just like a team playing for the sixth time in 9 days as Washington controlled most of the game.

"We weren't as active," Sixers guard Jrue Holiday said. "We weren't as alert. But we fought with some good pushes from Dorrell [Wright] and Spencer [Hawes] and guys coming off the bench. We fought our hearts out."

The Sixers did rally from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to put themselves in position to win. Then, like so many other times this season, things just fell apart.

"At the end of the game, we were up and had a chance to win it," said Hawes, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

With a spot in the Eastern Conference little more than a fading dream, the Sixers have to figure out how play through their final 24 games with little more than professional pride and a lottery pick to look forward to.

"Winning cures everything and losing makes everything worse," Hawes said. "[After a loss] you wake up in the morning and you're in a worse mood.

"It makes it difficult, but at the same time, sitting around and feeling bad about yourself, that doesn't help turn it around.

"You've got to have the right attitude and right mindset or else it really gets ugly."

And that's the big question with the Sixers: How ugly is it going to get? In the big picture, having a two-game winning streak wouldn't mean anything.

But now on Tuesday, they'll play the Boston Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center, trying to avoid the beginning of another losing streak.

"You know, you go back to practice and try to correct things," Holiday said. "[You] try to become more precise, more efficient, just try to get our work done."