Mental mistakes aside, the Sixers have been very good.
The last time that the Sixers visited the nation's capital, they suffered one of the most heartbreaking losses you'll ever see. But if you thought that a game like that couldn't happen again, then you haven't been paying attention to the Sixers this season.
For the rest of time, the history books will read that the Washington Wizards defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 116-114 last night at the Verizon Center. However, the box score doesn't sufficiently convey the devastation of a loss that was eerily similar to another game exactly three weeks ago.
"I'm sure you want to keep all sharp objects away from Doug [Collins]," said Wizards' coach Flip Saunders, pretty much summing up the Sixers' mood following last night's debacle.
The circumstances at the end of the 4th quarter in the two games were nearly identical. With only seconds to go in regulation, the Sixers were leading 106-103 on both occasions. Back on November 2, Cartier Martin hit an improbable 3-pointer to send the game in overtime - an eventual 116-115 Wizards' victory.
Last night, it was a mental mistake that contributed to the Sixers' 11th loss in 14 games this season.
At times, it seems as though the basketball IQ of the Sixers is akin to Vince Young's Wonderlic score. For all of the physical talent present on the team - and there is a good amount of it - much of the roster is prone to committing mistakes that will often leave you scratching your head.
With the Wizards down three points with 3.5 seconds to go, Jrue Holiday inexplicably fouled John Wall 40 feet away from the basket. With the savvy of a veteran, Wall drew a shooting foul, and consequently sank all three free throws, leading to overtime.
When it comes to Holiday and Evan Turner, there are certain lapses that are acceptable due to their lack of experience. However, there's no defense for ever fouling a jump shooter a few steps away from halfcourt. And there's absolutely no excuse for falling asleep on defense while protecting a one-point lead at the end of a game.
With time running down in the extra period, Evan Turner lost track of Wizards' guard Nick Young, who knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer with 7.3 seconds to go. Andre Iguodala, who missed the last three games due to a right Achilles' injury, had a chance to force a second overtime, but missed a leaner from the top of the key.
"Just made some critical mistakes again, and that's just crushing us," said Collins after Tuesday's defeat. "We've just gotta find a way to win a close game."
The Sixers could have closed the game had Evan Turner hit at least one of the two free throws he took with 8.0 seconds to go. Conversely, the Wizards' first-round pick - Wall - scored all 25 of his points in the second half, including those three clutch free throws.
Tuesday's game was the first in a stretch of four games in five nights. Trips to Toronto and Miami are next on the docket before they head back home to take on the New Jersey Nets on Saturday.
A stretch like that is difficult for any team to endure - probably even more so for a team that's one managed one road victory this entire season. Hopefully, the hangover of last night's nightmare doesn't lead to them falling even farther into the basement of the Eastern Conference.