WASHINGTON (AP) — The first three times the Washington Wizards reached .500, they lost their next game.
On Wednesday against Boston, the Wizards get their fourth shot at the break-even point, and they hope it’s the last time.
“It’s not a magical thing (where) I think all of a sudden fairy dust is going to fall on us if we get over .500 (and) we’re not going to lose another game,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said.
The Wizards haven’t been over .500 since Oct. 31, 2009, when they were 2-1.
After their 107-99 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, they were in no mood to admit that it was always on their mind. Players shouted to each other to ignore questions about the mark, but none did.
“We’re aware of it, but we just have to not even think about it,” Bradley Beal said.
Beal nearly had his first career triple-double. Two days after he missed 12 of his 14 shots in a loss to Detroit, Beal had 22 points — 13 of them in the second quarter when Washington built a 10-point halftime lead. He also had nine rebounds, a season high, and eight assists, equaling his career best.
Marcin Gortat had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Seraphin had 16 points for Washington. John Wall added 14.
Each time the Wizards reached .500 this season, their next game was at home, and they lost to Milwaukee, Dallas and Detroit.
“We’re done with that,” Gortat said.
“Every time we talk about being a .500 team and getting over .500, we have teams coming in here and just punking our butts.”
Michael Carter-Williams led Philadelphia, which has lost seven of eight, with 31. Thaddeus Young had 18. Spencer Hawes had 11 points and had a season high 16 rebounds.
Carter-Williams and Young scored the first 19 Philadelphia points in the third, but the Sixers trailed 70-66 midway through the period. Washington led 86-73 after three.
The Wizards were ahead 100-79 with 6:07 to play, but Philadelphia scored 13 straight to trail by eight with 2:26 left.
Washington didn’t make a field goal for more than eight minutes in the fourth quarter. Wittman substituted for his starters, but after the bench played poorly, the starters came back in to stabilize things.
“You’re always on audition,” Wittman told his bench.
“Those guys got to learn. Guys that want to play or think they should be in rotations better show me out there where it counts.”
While the Wizards are 20-20 and hope to reach the halfway point of their season a game over .500, the Sixers are 13-28. Expectations were low when the season began, but Philadelphia won its first three over Miami, Washington and Chicago.
With more than three weeks until the league pauses for the All-Star game, coach Brett Brown is still hopeful his team can improve.
“You’re getting ready for spring break, and everybody’s going to Fort Lauderdale, and there’s a time where you can dig in pre-All-Star break and finish this middle third of the season with some grunt,” Brown said before the game.
In his rookie season, Carter-Williams said it was hard to sometimes stay with it.
“I’ve never played this long of a season so I’m learning each and every day and I’m going through it a little bit. My body is tired a little bit, mentally I’ve got to stay strong,” Carter-Williams said.
Carter-Williams was 13 for 22 from the field, had six rebounds and five assists as he tried to keep Philadelphia competitive.
“He felt the need to take the game and try and put us back in a position where we could inch our way back in it, and he did,” Brown said.
NOTES: Wizards swingman Glen Rice was assigned to Iowa of the D-League. Rice had right wrist surgery last month, and coach Randy Wittman said that he needs some playing time and could return to the team during its upcoming four-game road trip, which begins on Friday. ... Sixers G Tony Wroten is out with a sprained right ankle. Brown refused to estimate how long he will be sidelined. Wroten sustained the injury on Saturday in Chicago. ... Philadelphia F Brandon Davies missed the game with a dislocated right pinkie. ... Washington F Trevor Booker was out with a sprained left ankle. ... Adam Silver, who will succeed David Stern as NBA commissioner next month, sat with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.