Sixers Down Wizards 109-102 for Second Win of Season

The Sixers beat the Washington Wizards 109-102 for their second win of the season. Jahlil Okafor led the way with 19 points.

Sixers power forward Dario Saric reacts after scoring a basket during the Sixers 109-102 victory. Saric finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds on the night | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers power forward Dario Saric reacts after scoring a basket during the Sixers 109-102 victory. Saric finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds on the night | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers held off a late rush from the Washington Wizards for their second win of the season, pulling out a 109-102 victory Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center and improving their record to 2-9 on the year.

The loss dropped the visiting Washington Wizards to 2-8 on the season.

The Sixers were led by a 19-point effort from second-year center Jahlil Okafor, who was limited to just 20 minutes in the game because of foul trouble. Okafor started in place of Joel Embiid, who was given the night off for rest. The Sixers will take on Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves tomorrow night in Minneapolis, a game which Embiid will be available for.

In addition to Okafor’s 19-point performance, the most he’s scored so far this season, the Sixers’ offense was propelled by solid perimeter shooting, connecting on 10 of their 28 three-point attempts on the evening. The Wizards came into the game the second worst team in the league at defending the three-point line.

Ersan Ilyasova, acquired by the 76ers from the Oklahoma City Thunder a little over two weeks ago, got the start at the power forward spot, his first start of the season. Ilyasova helped lead the perimeter attack, making 4 of his 8 three-point attempts on his way to a 16-point evening. Gerald Henderson joined Okafor and Ilyasova as starters in double figures, finishing with 14 points on 6-11 shooting. Starting point guard Sergio Rodriguez chipping in with 12 assists.

Head coach Brett Brown also got big contributions from the bench, with Sixers reserves outscoring their Wizards counterparts by a score of 49-25. Dario Saric led the way with 13 points and 12 rebounds, with the Sixers getting big games from Nik Stauskas (15 points, 6-8 shooting), Hollis Thompson (11 points, 5-8 shooting), and Richaun Holmes (8 points in 19 minutes) in a deep bench effort.

The biggest bucket of the night came from Holmes, who drilled a corner three-point shot off a broken play with with 1:10 remaining to push the Sixers lead back up to 6. The Sixers had a 12-point lead with 5:35 remaining, which the Wizards had whittled down to 3 before Holmes’ big shot.

It was the Sixers’ second consecutive win at home, and the second game they’ve held on for a late-game win.

“I think our guys showed excellent poise,” head coach Brett Brown said about the win. “I think that there was just a poise level that was fantastic. Our guys learned how to win a close game.

“We go overboard on what it’s going to take to close out a game. We know that if we’re going to win it’s not because we’re beating anybody by 20,” Brown continued. “I think most importantly we played the game out defensively. We really were on point with our defensive assignments, of when you’re going to switch and when you’re not. I just thought that they did a good job of keeping their composure. ”

The 29-year-old Ilyasova, a 9-year veteran now on his fifth NBA team, agreed that the Sixers are making progress.

“This is what we have to learn. Finish the games. I think we did a really good job as far as just controlling the game,” Ilyasova told reporters after the game. “We have to stay focused. I think we have something going on, we have to build on it.”

The Sixers held the Wizards to just 41.8 percent shooting from the field, the third-lowest field goal percentage the Sixers have allowed so far this season.

“We’re working every day to get better on defense, and I think that showed today,” Sixers center Jahlil Okafor said after the game. “I don’t want to say and act like we have it all figured out, but we work hard every day on it. It was good to see it benefit us today and know that some of the hard work is paying off.”

The Wizards were shorthanded, playing the game without starting shooting guard Bradley Beal and with point guard John Wall on a minutes restriction. Wall still finished the game with 27 points and 6 assists in 24 minutes despite being limited, and the Wizards outscored the Sixers by 1 in the minutes Wall was on the court.

Quick Thoughts:

  • The team expects center Nerlens Noel to rejoin the team later this week to continue his rehabilitation. Noel had been rehabbing down in Alabama with Kevin Wilk, who Noel worked with when coming back from the torn ACL he suffered in college.
  • Jerryd Bayless, who hasn’t played yet this season due to an injured left wrist, scrimmaged this week with the Delaware 87ers while the Sixers were on a road trip. There is no timetable yet for Bayless’ return.
  • Jahlil Okafor will play tomorrow night in the second half of the back-to-back, with Brown given a 16-20 minute timetable. “When I hear that (from the doctors), I don’t even hear 16,” Brown joked.
  • Dario Saric came off the bench for the first time tonight after starting the Sixers’ first 10 games at power forward, a move which Brown described as aimed at taking pressure off of Saric and allowing him to create more. Saric, who averaged 9.7 points and 6.0 rebounds heading into tonight’s game, finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.
  • It was nice to see the Sixers make a couple of stops and hit a couple of big shots down the stretch, but the dysfunction of the Washington Wizards played a role in that as well.

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.