The Sixers (12-7) visited the Washington Wizards (3-16) on Wednesday. Philadelphia wanted to snap a two-game losing streak. Washington wanted to break out of a two-game skid of its own. Joel Embiid scored an effortless 50 points to power the Sixers to victory, 131-126.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

After missing 11 games as he recovered from a fractured rib sustained in a hit-and-run accident near his residence in Philadelphia, Kelly Oubre Jr. made his return to the court as a reserve for the Sixers.

Terquavion Smith, Javonte Smart, and Ricky Council IV are on two-way G League assignments with the Delaware Blue Coats and were not available.

Nick Nurse started Tyrese Maxey, De'Anthony Melton, Nico Batum, Tobias Harris, and Embiid.

The Wizards were without the services of Landry Shamet, who has a sprained right rib. Delon Wright missed the game with a sprained left knee.

Ryan Rollins has a strained right knee and was not available. Johnny Davis has a strained left calf and was out.

Wes Unseld Jr. started Tyus Jones, Jordan Poole, Deni Avdija, Kyle Kuzma, and Daniel Gafford.


- 12 points on eight shots in less than 20 minutes of action for Oubre in his return. He fit like a glove. He was clearly a bit rusty, losing control on a few drives. But, he laced a corner three as part of a big fourth quarter to keep the Sixers in front. His presence was really felt on the weak side.

Oubre might've missed a month's time, but he didn't lose any of his feel for when to cut along the baseline. Maxey got his feet in the paint on a broken play and found Oubre diving behind a raised Wizards back line for an easy finish at the cup. The veteran wing also had a couple dives when shots went up, feeding on sleeping Washington rebounders for second-chance points. It was impressive how good his feel was after such a long layoff, and working the weak side was an element Philadelphia sorely missed.

- As you'll see below, I really wasn't impressed by much in this game. The effort was putrid on both sides at various points in the game. But, cannot go anywhere without shining some light on Embiid.

You knew he was going to get at least 40 in this game when he came out and scored as easily as he did in the first quarter. There was zero resistance on Washington's side. He did whatever he wanted. Embiid dominated inside in the first half, applying his physicality for ridiculously easy scores at the rim to jump out to 26 points on cruise control ahead of halftime.

He came out of the break and put his jumper on display in the second half. His touch was incredible, barely nicking the rim on his attempts around the nail and elbows. He was utterly unstoppable, not that the Wizards actually tried to stop him. Easiest 50-point game you'll ever see. Helluva first game back for the big fella after not playing in real action for more than a week.


- I'm generally not supportive of any team using their margin of error against a bad opponent to sleep-walk through a portion of a game, but I was willing to make an exception for this game. The Wizards are that bad, and the Sixers haven't played a game in quite a while. A sluggish start on defense would've been permissible, mostly because Washington is so laughably bad on defense that you could make up for it on the other end if necessary. What I did not find particularly amusing was Philadelphia's thought process on offense.

Washington looks every bit the bad defense that the numbers say they are. They're bottom five in the league in both opponent frequency of shots at the rim and opponent accuracy at the rim. The Wizards were not even remotely interested in offering resistance on dribble penetration or on shots at the rim in the first half. All the Sixers had to do was drive with force and they would get whatever they wanted. That didn't stop Philadelphia from falling in love with the outside shot at a time when the game sat on a seesaw in the first half.

The Sixers had nothing going from the perimeter, shooting 2-for-16 (and, really, 1-for-15 if you take away the Maxey halfcourt shot at the halftime buzzer) from deep in the first 24 minutes. There was a clear formula that worked seamlessly, and the Sixers still weren't quite patient with their shot selection.

Some of the looks they got from beyond the arc were wide open. You have to take those. But, many of them were rushed. Those shots, against this team, show a complete absence of mind.

It wasn't just those Sixers most licensed to do what they want on offense, either. Paul Reed took a three with seven seconds left on the shot clock; Marcus Morris Sr. took a contested triple halfway through the shot clock. Patrick Beverley forced a bad pass for a turnover with 11 seconds left on the ticker.

Make or miss, turnover or clean ball movement, process often matters as much as, if not more than, result. Gafford had no interest in defending Embiid if the big man got physical inside. Poole is basically on another planet as soon as his team doesn't have possession of the ball. There is nothing to make you think you have to rush or force on offense.

And yet, the Sixers didn't care to run anything cohesive. They didn't make a collective effort to take advantage of Washington's most apathetic spots on defense. They just kept doing what clearly wasn't working, all while the Wizards briefly hit a stride on offense.

- The effort flipped after Maxey's halfcourt shot to cap the first half, just not in a way that was conducive to putting the Wizards on ice like the should've done in the first half. The offense began to pick up some steam, but the defense was nowhere to be found.

When you're giving up open threes off of a one-dribble reset in secondary transition, you're not trying. When it only takes one single back screen and a hard cut to get an open layup, you're not trying. The Sixers would have easily put this game away in the third quarter had they put even a modicum of effort into the defensive side of the ball in the second half.

- Joel, you are way too big to be grifting for fouls against this team. No one there is big enough for you to get the cheapies that you usually get. C'mon, it's not fair.

- I'm with you guys, jarring that Robert Covington only played four minutes in this game. He would've fed on some of the sloppiness that the young Wizards exhibit on drives. I don't get it.

The Sixers (13-7) will host the Atlanta Hawks (9-10) on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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Gallery Credit: Josh Hennig/Townsquare Media

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