The Philadelphia 76ers had their winning ways stopped by the New York Knicks on Jan. 11. It didn't escape Sixers fans like myself that there were reasons why they didn't blow the Knicks out like everyone else. For one thing, Philadelphia was on the road and facing a team with a winning record, and it was the one that fell behind quickly this time around.
When the Sixers don't get an early lead and then blow out an inferior opponent for good in the third quarter, what kind of team are they? We won't find out again for a while, but it is still a good thing to follow this approach until then. As such, the usual Philadelphia formula still yielded dividends when the Sixers started a home-and-home with the Washington Wizards on Jan. 13.
The Wizards have the worst record in the NBA, so it would have been worrisome if the Sixers didn't jump out to a double digit lead and then push it to over 30 points in the third quarter. But that's what Philadelphia did to breeze through a 120-89 victory that got it back in the win column.
All the elements that were missing against the Knicks were back against the Wizards, as the Sixers shot 55 percent, held Washington to 44 percent shooting and had a 38-18 advantage in the third quarter. What's more, Philadelphia took advantage of Washington mistakes throughout, gaining 36 points off of 19 turnovers. In addition, seven Sixers were in double digits, which is one or two more than usual.
A different player leads the group each time out, and in this case it was Jodie Meeks as he got 26 points on the strength of six three-pointers. Lou Williams also returned to form with 19 points while Spencer Hawes made a welcome comeback with 10 points and 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes.
The Wizards are a cure all for pretty much every NBA team so far this season with their 1-10 record. Since the Sixers have made a habit of thumping sub .500 teams in the same old blowout fashion, this game pretty much served as a rerun. In fact, the only reason to believe the rematch might not be different is that it is in Washington and is taking place 24 hours later on Jan. 14.
A short rest is all the Wizards have to cling to for hope, since not much else is working for them. Maybe the Sixers will lose a little bit in going on the road and playing a second game in 24 hours. But given their work against poor teams this month, there isn't much else poised to stop Philadelphia's blowout train now that it is back on track.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
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