WASHINGTON - The 76ers didn't make 11 straight shots to begin the game at the Verizon Center last night against the Washington Wizards, and they didn't get out to a 19-point lead, either, as they did against the Miami Heat in their season opener on Wednesday.
Instead, Wizards guard John Wall provided all of the first-quarter highlights.
But what the Sixers did do, as they did in their win over Miami, was remain resilient, and that enabled them to pull out a 109-102 win and improve to 2-0. Mark it as one good-looking win for Brett Brown's team and one ugly one. But, most important, mark both as wins.
On Wednesday, they had to come back from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit, which was even more impressive than their blazing start. Last night, they made huge plays in the fourth quarter again and shoved those growing pains aside to yet another day.
Michael Carter-Williams, who struggled most of the evening, made a huge three-pointer with 6 minutes, 28 seconds to go in the game to give the Sixers their first lead at 92-89. Then in a 20-second span, Spencer Hawes drained a three-pointer, then picked off a Washington pass in the lane and got an assist at the other end to give the Sixers a 101-92 advantage with a little less than 4 minutes remaining.
Wall, using his blazing quickness to get wherever he wanted on the floor, scored 15 of his 26 points in the first quarter, including 10 straight at one point. He made all six of his field goal attempts, including two three-pointers.
The Sixers, however, adjusted to Wall - and he didn't appear to have very spry legs late in the game - as he scored only 11 the rest of the way.
The Sixers didn't have many similarities to their opener, as they shot 0-for-9 from three-point range in the first quarter and fell behind by as many as 13 points. The win was more due to the effort at the defensive end, specifically on Wall.
"You have to run back. Run back. Run as fast as you can and get back," Brown said of how to defend Wall. "It's almost that simple. It's just trying to get him that cushion where you don't want to be static, you don't want to be stuck in mud. You just want to get a cushion as he's running at you, and the team the same way. You have to absorb his speed, and it's a lot easier to talk about that than do it.
"I saw it for years with Tony Parker [with the Spurs]. He would just love to run into people's bodies and go at them and finish and go at them and spin. You have to be careful of playing him static."
For most of the game, Carter-Williams showed what a difference 2 days can make for a rookie in the NBA. After posting a sick stat line against Miami of 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds, along with only one turnover, the expected rookie struggles caught up with MCW, but only for three quarters. He regained his Wednesday groove in the fourth and finished with 14 points and five assists.
Thaddeus Young paced the Sixers with 29 points and eight rebounds, while Evan Turner added 23, and Hawes collected 16 points and 14 rebounds.
"The education, most definitely, comes on the court in real time," Brown said of Carter-Williams.
The Sixers yesterday announced that they picked up the third-year options on the contracts of guard Tony Wroten and forward Arnett Moultrie.
The bigger news, though, is that they didn't decide to do the same for Evan Turner, who was due to make $8.7 million next season. Wroten will cost the team $1.2 million next season, while Moultrie will collect $1.1 million.
Turner will now become a restricted free agent, meaning whatever offer he might get from another team can be matched by the Sixers.
"I just want to keep getting better, and as long as I'm here, keep being a leader on the team and keep developing," Turner said. "I'm still relatively young and have a lot more time in this league, hopefully.
"I knew this wasn't going to happen a while ago. When Sam [Hinkie] took over [as general manager] and he traded Jrue [Holiday] and all of that . . . I wasn't really expecting anything. Hinkie isn't my GM [meaning he didn't draft Turner], he doesn't owe me anything, so I'm just playing. I didn't expect anything like that. We're going in a different direction. I really don't know [if he'll be here next year].
"They just traded Jrue, and he was a walking legend. Even Wilt Chamberlain got traded. Any day that you wake up and play basketball is a great day. I like coach Brown, I'll be able to get some good coaching and play with some talented, young players."
For Wroten, yesterday was a dream come true.
"They were impressed with how my preseason was going, and in practice, they like how everything was going, so they were saying they were more than happy to pick up the option," he said.
"I love the city of Philadelphia, and I want to be here a long time. This is a great situation for me. In Memphis, they had a veteran team already put together, so there weren't a lot of minutes there for me. In Philadelphia, I get to play a lot with a young team."
The Wizards were without starting center Nene, out with a calf injury . . . The Sixers host the Chicago Bulls tonight at 7:30 . . . Brett Brown again went with a 10-man rotation. He said before the game he wouldn't change minutes because of back-to-back contests.