WASHINGTON - In the final quarter of last night's 105-98 loss to the Washington Wizards, the 76ers committed mistakes as frequently as the Wizards collected points.
One possession it was a missed box-out, the next it was a poor pass, and later it was shoddy defense that left power forward Elton Brand wondering why "certain guys" were even on the court.
By the end of the quarter, Sixers coach Eddie Jordan added one last miscue: calling for a foul with 34.7 seconds left even though his team was down by only 101-98.
"We had a horrible defensive fourth quarter," a frustrated Jordan said after his team's record dipped to 7-21. "Horrible, horrible. . . . I mismanaged one possession. I called for a foul when we were down three with a 10-second differential. I made a mistake there, too, but overall, horrible fourth-quarter defense."
The stat sheet for the quarter displayed some ugly numbers: The Wizards scored 33 points. The Sixers scored 19, none in transition; committed seven turnovers; and received a grand total of zero field goals from their starting lineup.
Far from a powerhouse, Washington improved to 9-17 behind 31 points from Gilbert Arenas.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Sixers were ahead, 79-72. This one looked like a victory.
An hour later, the only thing visible was disgust.
"Our unit that we had out there, certain guys didn't box out, didn't rebound, weren't tough," said Brand, who led the Sixers with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
"Certain guys have a longer leash than others, so they played longer and the mistakes were shown.Brand was not more specific about the teammate benefiting from Jordan's long leash, but the coach Jordan said that down the stretch he played a frontcourt of Brand and center Marreese Speights despite the defensive presence offered by starter Samuel Dalembert.
Dalembert played 17 minutes, 2 seconds - only 2:47 in the final quarter - and collected 10 points and six rebounds.
"Elton and Marreese had it going a little bit offensively, so we were keeping the pace that way," Jordan said when asked why Dalembert didn't play more. "And you just hope that your guys defend a little bit better."
"We had a nice little lead for a minute and it's just like they turn it on when they want to," said guard Willie Green, who scored 16 points. "We didn't do a good job defensively as a team, especially when Sam's out of the game."
Arenas "was the catalyst, driving the paint," Jordan said. "And it seems like if we don't have Sam in there, we have nobody that can defend the paint or the rim."
Was Jordan frustrated in his postgame message to the team?
"Not really," Brand said. "Maybe because he said foul with 34 seconds left, maybe he was upset at himself for that."
It was one mistake among many.