76ers continue surprising start, top Wizards

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Two games into the season and one thing is abundantly clear: the Philadelphia 76ers are lousy at tanking.
Most basketball voices in the Western world projected Philadelphia into the Eastern Conference basement. Many went a step further by labeling first-year coach Brett Brown's rag-tag squad as the NBA's worst. Instead of playing down to the gloomy forecast, the 76ers' comeback kids have come through their first two games with all smiles.
Thaddeus Young scored 29 points and Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 14 rebounds as the 76ers pulled off another early season stunner with a 109-102 comeback win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Evan Turner had 23 points and rookie Michael Carter-Williams scored 14 points for the 76ers. After rallying to shock the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Wednesday, Philadelphia improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2006-07.
The 76ers trailed by 14 points in the first half, 54-44 at halftime and 85-78 with 8:50 remaining in Washington's home opener.
"We sort of knew the landscape and how we're viewed for a long time," said Brown, who oversees a roster expected to put Philadelphia in the chase for next year's draft lottery. "It hasn't been anything that's hidden. Everybody says what they say, and we get it. Our team has gone beyond that where they like playing together."
Carter-Williams' missed his opening five shots and lost the early battle to Wizards point guard John Wall. The rookie's 3-pointer gave Philadelphia its first lead at 92-89 with 6:28 remaining. The 76ers remained in attack mode and their 23-7 fourth-quarter run extended the advantage to 101-92.
Wall scored 21 of his 26 in the first half for the Wizards (1-1), but dealt with back spasm during the second half. Trevor Ariza had 12 points and 14 rebounds and Martell Webster had 13 points. Washington lost at Detroit on Wednesday.
The 76ers missed their first 10 3-point attempts, but shot 51.1 percent from the field thanks to a staggering 74 points in the paint.
"Commitment to (expletive) playing defense. That's what it is. That's what it boils down," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said during a blistering postgame rant. "The thing they haven't learned, and I got to figure out a way. You could see it coming out of the locker room. You've got to respect the game, your opponent.
"We came out in the first half and obviously got after it. We held them to what, 40 percent shooting. In the second half, there was absolutely none"
Webster's 3-pointer pulled Washington closer at 105-102 with 1:15 remaining. Young countered with a short bank shot and after a Wizards turnover, Hawes added a layup.
Philadelphia won each of its games this season despite entering the fourth quarter tied or trailing. In similar scenarios last season, the 76ers were 4-47.
Tied at 74 after three quarters, Washington surged into the lead early in the fourth before Philadelphia's charge.
"We've been finding the right moment to just come alive and play as a team," said Young, who made 14 of 20 shots.
Marcin Gorat scored 12 points in his second game for Washington since acquired in a preseason trade with Phoenix. Gortat started in place of Nene (strained calf).
Tony Wroten and Lavoy Allen each had 10 points for Philadelphia.
Coming off Washington's opening setback and following Carter-Williams starry debut, Wall immediately attacked the rookie from all angles. Most surprising, the Wizards' point guard scored early from the outside, including two 3-pointers in the first quarter. He went 6 for 6 in the first quarter for 15 points and made his first seven attempts overall, frequently beating his chest and talking to Carter-Williams following scores.
Even though Carter-Williams didn't come close to duplicating his opening performance with 22 points, 12 assists and nine steals, the rookie's side picked up the win.
"He was scoring and he was talking, but he's just trying to get me out of my focus," Carter-Williams said." I just kept being confident and I was able to make plays in the second half."
The Wizards clearly did not before the stunned crowd of 17,160.
"We got a lot of room for improvement," said Wall, who missed five of six attempts after halftime. "It's just embarrassing to lose your home opener when you got a great chance to take over the lead and finish the game out."
NOTES: Nene was injured during Wednesday's loss at Detroit. The Brazilian big man warmed up but could not go. ... The Wizards continue to play without first-round draft pick Otto Porter (hip flexor). The former Georgetown standout missed the entire preseason. ... Philadelphia entered the game having won seven of nine against the Wizards. In the previous 10 games against Philadelphia, Washington had not scored more than 97 points. ... 76ers rookie Hollis Thompson was scoreless in his NBA debut, which came in the same building he played in on the college level. Thompson left Georgetown as a junior after the 2011-12 season and spent last season in the NBA's D-League. ... Philadelphia plays host to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. Washington travels to face Miami on Sunday.

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