Another slow start, another woeful performance by the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards missed their first 14 shots and fell behind by 18 points in the first quarter of Tuesday night's 95-73 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. It was Philadelphia's third straight victory, and Washington's seventh consecutive loss.
"Washington's coming out of the gate struggling," Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said. "And we talked about trying to jump on them and being aggressive. They missed some shots, and we got to run and got some easy baskets in the first quarter."
"We have to look at replacing two of three starters," Heard said. "It's not that they're not trying, I'm trying to find the right combination."
The first candidates for the bench are center Isaac Austin, who had no points and two rebounds, and six-time All-Star Mitch Richmond, who has struggled all season and was 3-for-13 with eight points against the 76ers. His backup, rookie Richard Hamilton, provided a spark with a team-high 17 points, and Heard all but said Hamilton will start Thursday against Toronto.
"I know I'm not on my A or B or C game," said Richmond, who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury. "I'm trying to fight back and come back to the way I once was. ... If it's time for a change, it's time for a change. He's the coach and we have to back whatever decision he makes."
Allen Iverson led the 76ers with 39 points and did more or less whatever he wanted, hitting 13 of 27 shots including 5 of 6 3-pointers, and showboating with his between-the-legs moves in the fourth quarter. When the Wizards, led by Hamilton, closed to 49-42 in the third, Iverson hit three straight jumpshots in an 11-2 run that ended Washington's best comeback bid.
"We were just trying to get them down in a hole in the beginning," Iverson said. "And then hopefully their crowd would get on them."
And they did. The boos cascaded from the blue seats at the MCI Center after the Wizards fell behind 21-3. They were 0-for-14 and had five turnovers before Rod Strickland made the team's first field goal, an 11-foot jumper with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
All of which led to the now routine question for the visiting players: What's wrong with the Wizards?
"In this league, you can't play basketball on paper," Iverson said. "I look at what they got on paper, and they got three All-Stars, but when you don't have that chemistry and you don't have that identity as a team, it's hard to put all that together."
Juwan Howard, who had 13 points, was the only starter in double figures for the Wizards, who shot 10 percent in the first quarter and 34 percent for the game.
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