Philadelphia 76ers Fall to Washington Wizards, Lose Grip on Atlantic Lead

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 21: Andre Iguodala #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on January 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In this league, heart and hustle will only get you so far. The 76ers found that out the hard way on Friday night against the Washington Wizards.

After receiving a rare two days of rest, it appeared the Sixers would be primed to beat up on the lowly Wizards, just as they had done on three previous occasions this season.

Unfortunately, Doug Collins' squad lacked the intensity necessary to beat the 12-39 Wizards.

Shooting just 36 percent from the field, the Sixers looked dreadful They settled for jump shots when they could have driven the lane, and, to add insult to injury, they shot just 3-of-14 from distance.

The Sixers also found no way to follow up their misses, as they were out-rebounded by 14 on the night.

Just one Sixers' starter, Evan Turner, scored in double figures. He had 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. A team that typically depends on balanced scoring, the Sixers had very little of it.

Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young were the only other Sixers to score in double figures. They each had 14 points, shooting a combined 9-of-21 shooting from the field.

To prove just how bad this game was, you have to dig into the past of Wizard's leading scorer Cartier Martin. A recent D-League call-up, he posted 20 points in 26 minutes on a Sixer squad that is renowned as one of the league's top defensive units.

Martin, obviously, thought otherwise, shooting 8-of-12 from the field and 4-of-7 from three.

So, where do things stand after the ugliest loss of the season?

The Sixers sit a full game back of the Boston Celtics in the Atlantic Division, while the Knicks continue to creep up the standings, sitting just two-and-a-half games behind the Sixers.

Of their last 12 road games, the Sixers have won just three.

If the season ended today, the Sixers would be the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, matching them up with the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?