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Wizards fall to 76ers, 106-98

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON - For the Philadelphia 76ers this season, beating the Washington Wizards has been a little like going to the dentist: Show up, get it over with, move on.

Maybe that's why, in the locker room after last night's 106-98 victory at Verizon Center, it was difficult to tell whether the Sixers had won or lost.

"We got a little sloppy toward the end," guard Willie Green said.

The Sixers, now 28-28, had not won in two weeks. They had lost four in a row and fallen below .500 after boosting their record before the all-star break.

Still, there's little wonder in defeating the Wizards, who are the Eastern Conference's worst team, owners of a 13-44 record. And there's less wonder in defeating them four times - in four games - as the Sixers have done this season.

Washington coach Ed Tapscott said his team lacked "focus, concentration, effort and execution" - and he pounded the lectern several times to emphasize the point. He said he might have to begin scripting a pre-game preparation period for his players so that they will be mentally ready to play.

"If that means I'm out there on the floor in my sweats, we'll do that," he said.

Asked for his reaction, co-captain Antawn Jamison said: "That's embarrassing that Coach is saying that now. He's been saying that for almost since he's taken over and still for some guys that is a joke. He's done everything possible to have not only the vets, but everybody ready to play basketball, and it's a time when certain guys have got to be professional and treat it as their job and be mentally prepared as well as physically prepared."

Caron Butler scored 17, Jamison had 16, and Dominic McGuire picked up 14 points and matched his career-high with 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who were hurt by 21 turnovers, including nine in the third quarter.

Magic 114, Knicks 109: : Dwight Howard had 24 points and 21 rebounds in his 20th career 20-20 game, and visiting Orlando (42-15) held on to beat New York (24-33).

Nets 111, Bulls 99: : Devin Harris scored 19 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter and carried host New Jersey (26-32) for the second straight game in a victory over Chicago (26-32).

Nuggets 110, Hawks 109:: Chauncey Billups scored a season-best 33 points for host Denver and a short jumper by Atlanta's Flip Murray bounced off the rim at the buzzer, allowing Denver (38-20) to escape with a win over the Hawks (32-25).

Jazz 120, Timberwolves 103:: Ronnie Brewer scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and Carlos Boozer showed signs of his old self as visiting Utah (35-23) beat Minnesota (18-39).

Hornets 90, Pistons 87:: David West scored 30 points and grabbed two key offensive rebounds on New Orleans' final possession, helping the host Hornets (34-22) hold off Detroit (27-29).

Mavericks 116, Bucks 96:: Josh Howard scored 27 points, Jason Kidd added 19 and host Dallas avenged its worst loss of the season, last month in Milwaukee, by beating the Bucks.

Pacers 104, Grizzlies 99:: T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack each scored 20 points, and host Indiana (25-35) held off Memphis (15-42). Memphis' Rudy Gay (Archbishop Spalding) missed a three-point attempt with seven seconds left that would have tied the score.

Spurs 99, Trail Blazers 84:: With Tim Duncan sidelined for the second straight game with right quadriceps tendinosis, Tony Parker scored 39 points and host San Antonio beat Portland for an 11th consecutive time in San Antonio.

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