Isaiah Thomas (knee) returns to the lineup on Monday

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Why should anything less have been expected from their final meeting of the year? The 76ers won the game 105-99.

"With the group that we have, there is nearly zero margin for error - especially when you play (a good team like Boston)", Brown said. "Just a common talk you have, and (referee) Danny (Crawford) just came in and said, 'Technical fouls, '" Wall said. "They've got a couple of guys that play very physical". "They need to stop showing favoritism to certain players". It's who they are. Brown said it is a "combination of sports science, agents, clubs feeling the responsibility to keep your best players, especially, healthy" in the face of the months-long grind.

"I just think it was a physical game", Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.

In what should now come as no surprise, Dario Saric was right in the thick of another encouraging showing from the Sixers. He had a double-double of 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting along with 10 rebounds. "Today we did not let them do that". In three games, we were so close, and we gave all the games a 100 percent, and we lost. The Sixers rallied from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter for the upset win over the Celtics.

"He was sore", Brown said.

The way the quarter closed, however, was far different from how it started. That would be huge considering the Wizards are now third in East and just 1 1/2 games behind the Celtics, who are second. The sequence whittled Boston's lead to three points, 79-76. Just trying to get it back as strong as I possibly can.

Dallas was a 111-104 victor at Brooklyn as Dirk Nowitzki had 23 points and nine rebounds.

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The Celtics are sitting in 2nd place with a record of 44-25. Reserve guard Jordan Crawford scored 22 points in 21 minutes for New Orleans, which has won four of five.

Richaun Holmes played a major role in the win as well. This is most certainly going to be a game that the Wizards want to get up for, so we'll see if that leads to a more complete game. "They were better than us the first quarter and a half, and better than us the last quarter and a half". Brown admired the way the Celtics have used smart drafts, trades and free-agent deals to rise and become a force in the East. He, Nik Stauskas (nine points, six rebounds, four assists), and Sergio Rodriguez (nine points and seven assists) were part of a second unit that propelled Philadelphia down the stretch.

The Sixers are exactly one game behind the Sacramento Kings for #6 in the lottery standings. He's averaging 16.9 points on 47.1 perecent shooting and 6.2 rebounds per game.

The Sixers' bench contributions, meanwhile, were numerous. John Wall led the team with 19 points, Bradley Beal had 18 points, and Otto Porter finished with 16. The one benefit you could say of being a man in Brett's position is that the pressure to win is slight to the point of being virtually non-existent. I did a lot of treatment in order to be able to play tonight.

The "team" theme that made such an impression on Brown was certainly ever present. G Justin Anderson (gastroenteritis) sat out. T.J. McConnell hit the game-winner in the final seconds.

As the number of games left on the Sixers' schedule begin to dwindle, so too do the back-to-back sets remaining on the slate.

Orlando last played on Friday night, losing in Phoenix to the Suns, 109-103.

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