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Simmons on "Hack-A-Ben": "It's not going to happen for much longer"

Sixers survive late surge to beat Wizards after free-throw frenzy

By: Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Sixers managed to fend off a late push from the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night for a 118-113 victory at Wells Fargo Center after the Sixers were nearly sunk by their poor team foul shooting with 37 free throws in the fourth quarter. 

With John Wall already sidelined Bradley Beal started the game for the Wizards but quickly was forced to exit after pursuing Jerryd Bayless near the rim. As Bayless came down after finishing for two of his 10 first-half points his elbow connected with the right side of Beal's face. Beal went to the locker room with a towel over his face and was listed as questionable to return to the game. 

The Sixers took advantage of Beal's absence, but interestingly not on the perimeter. The Sixers scored 20 of their 28 first quarter points inside the paint, led by seven points from Ben Simmons who was cleared to play after spraining his ankle on Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The Sixers used a balanced attack in the first quarter, scoring 20 points before Joel Embiid attempted his first field goal, which he connected on. 

The Sixers held a 28-18 lead after one quarter of play. 

Embiid settled in after hitting his first bucket, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Embiid also had three blocks in the second quarter, including two on one possession and this monster block that he then turned into a monster jam:

 The Sixers led 58-40 at halftime. Ben Simmons posted a double-double in the first half with 11 points and 10 rebounds to go with one assist. 

Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Wizards with 13 points in the first half after stepping in for the injured Beal. 

Beal would return in the second half but the Sixers had already settled in as they led by 20 or more points for virtually the entire third quarter. 

Ben Simmons reached a new milestone when he collected his career-high 14th rebound in the third quarter. 

The Sixers had a pair of injury scares in the third quarter, first when Robert Covington drove the lane and was met with an accidental forearm from Wizards' center Marcin Gortat that connected flush with the bridge of Covington's nose. Covington was okay and came back into the game. 

T.J. McConnell was not as fortunate after being on the receiving end of a screen from Wizards' backup center Ian Mahinmi. McConnell went to the locker room holding his left shoulder. Molly Sullivan reported on the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast that McConnell would not return with a shoulder contusion and added that she heard McConnell say that he heard his shoulder crack on the play. 

Despite the bad news, The Sixers led 84-65 after three quarters, and McConnell returned to the bench to cheer on his teammates sporting a bandage around his torso.

The Sixers took their foot off of the gas in the fourth quarter and the Wizards took advantage with a 48-point outburst in the fourth quarter.

Wizards' head coach Scott Brooks employed a hack-a-Simmons strategy, opting to send Ben Simmons to the free throw line on a long string of Sixers' possessions. Simmons inability to consistently hit free throws allowed the Wizards to trim the lead to as few as three points. 

As a team the Sixers attempted a franchise-record 37 free throws in the fourth quarter. 

The ample fouling by Washington led to Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. - two of the Wizards' best on Wednesday night - to foul out late in the fourth, but the Sixers lost Joel Embiid late in the fourth as well after his sixth foul came on a Bradley Beal three-point attempt. 

Without Embiid, Dario Saric rose to the occasion late in the game by getting two and-ones late to put the game away. The Sixers managed to hang on and win by a score of 118-113.

Ben Simmons finished with a career-high 31 points, a career-high 18 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Simmons is the first Sixers' rookie with 18 rebounds in a game since Charles Barkley in 1985. Simmons is the first NBA rookie to score 30 or more points and grab 18 or more rebounds in an NBA game since Blake Griffin in 2011.

Simmons attempted 29 free throws, one shy of Wilt Chamberlain's franchise record for free throws attempted in a game. Simmons made 15 of his 29 free throw attempts.

In all, there were 101 free throw attempts between the two teams.

Joel Embiid had an equally impressive 25 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and 4 blocks before fouling out. 

Dario Saric had 25 points and eight rebounds, and Jerryd Bayless contributed 14 points and four assists as well as the final free throws to officially end the game. 

Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Wizards with 22 points, while Bradley Beal and Jodie Meeks poured in 21 points each. Tomas Satoransky was the fourth Wizard in double figures with 12 points. 

The Wizards' bench badly outscored the Sixers' bench 67-21. Two of the Wizards' three highest scorers were off of their bench, and three of their four in double figures were bench players. 

The Sixers out-rebounded the Wizards 64-35. This was the Sixers' league-leading 11th game with 50 team rebounds. No other team has recorded more than seven games with as many rebounds. 

The Sixers play again tomorrow night in Boston when they visit the Celtics. 


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