WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Wizards know how hard it is to put away the Philadelphia 76ers.
When the chance came early Sunday night, they had to take it.
Otto Porter scored 24 points, Bradley Beal added 23 and the Wizards had a dominant second quarter that helped seal a 109-94 victory over the 76ers in a crucial game in the Eastern Conference standings.
“They can come back from 20-point deficits like it’s nothing,” Beal said of Philadelphia, which got as close as eight points in the fourth quarter. “And they almost got us with one. We did a good job of staying poised and closing it out in the end. But that’s a hungry team that’s going to be trouble.”
Kelly Oubre scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half to help fourth-place Washington move a half-game ahead of Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Wizards improved to 9-3 in an extended stretch without All-Star point guard John Wall (knee surgery), in a game where a loss would’ve seen them drop behind the 76ers based on winning percentage.
“I mean, he’s a huge part of the team,” 76ers guard Ben Simmons said of Wall. “But at the same time, they have an All-Star in Bradley Beal, so you can’t really take anything away from them. They are a good team, they play together. They are not selfish and they move the ball.”
Joel Embiid had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which dropped a half-game behind Milwaukee into seventh, and two back of Washington in the congested East standings.
Simmons added 16 points as the 76ers lost for the first time in eight games to settle for a 2-2 split of the season series. It was Philadelphia’s eighth consecutive loss in Washington.
The Wizards outscored the 76ers 37-20 in the second quarter to build a 67-48 lead by halftime. Oubre sparked the outburst, shooting 6 of 9 from the floor and 4 of 6 from beyond the arc before the break.
“Kelly’s last couple of days, or games, he’s been able to make his 3s, which is good,” said Washington coach Scott Brooks. “When we have good ball movement, when our feet are set, we can make 3s.”
Washington shot 60 percent as a team (27 of 45) in the first half and finished at 54.4 percent (43 of 79) to fight off a late comeback bid.
Philadelphia cut the deficit from 23 down to 14 in the third, then got to within eight twice midway through the fourth.
“We sort of reclaimed some energy,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “I give the Wizards a lot of credit. They made shots at the end of shot clocks, I think six times, five times. But I thought (late) that we had a spirit to our defense.”
76ers: Shot 19 more free throws than the Wizards, hitting 23 of 31 … C Amir Johnson returned to action after not playing in Saturday’s home win against Orlando. … Embiid had his 31st double-double of the season.
Wizards: Tomas Satoransky’s 10 assists were the second-most of his career. … Sunday marked the first of 13 consecutive games against teams that entered the day holding an NBA playoff position.
Oubre had shot 28.6 percent (22 of 77) from the floor and 22 percent from 3-point range (9 of 41) over his last eight games before the All-Star break. In three games since the season resumed, he’s shooting 50 percent (17 of 34) overall and 47.1 percent (8 of 17) from deep.
“I’ve been really working hard,” Oubre said. “Really just tweaking the mechanics and putting in the repetitions so I can see the ball go in and just know the muscle memory is there.”
Meanwhile, the 76ers hit just 36 percent of their shots (31 of 86) and 27.3 percent of their 3 attempts (9 of 33).
“Some of it was, we just missed some open looks,” Brown said. “And some of it, I give Washington credit.”
76ers: At Miami on Tuesday night.
Wizards: At Milwaukee on Tuesday night.