Curtain comes down on Wizards' hopes

100-91 setback by 76ers, Raptors' rout write end

Pro Basketball

April 13, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - It's not often in the NBA that a losing coach can muster a smile, albeit a wan one, in the face of a close road loss that knocks his team out of the postseason.

But there was Washington Wizards coach Doug Collins looking through a window of hope in the midst of a 100-91 setback to the Philadelphia 76ers at the First Union Center.

Collins' hope is that the Wizards' nucleus of young players carries the sting of fighting for a playoff berth down to the season's last weekend with them as they work out over the summer in preparation for next season.

"It's fun for me, as the season winds down and we're out of the playoffs to look forward to next year and what some of these young guys are going to be able to do for us," said Collins.

Collins' plan for Washington's final two games, against the Indiana Pacers tomorrow and Tuesday's finale against the New York Knicks, is to give the younger players extended minutes in an early audition for next year.

The Wizards' chase for the playoffs officially ended with their loss and with Toronto's 112-73 thumping of the Atlanta Hawks.

"It really wouldn't have mattered what we did, but we still wanted to get the game," said Washington guard Courtney Alexander, who had 20 points.

"We still wanted to get a W instead of a loss. Our whole focus now is to get these last two at home. We want to end the season on as positive a note as possible. Just because we didn't make the playoffs, we should have enough pride in ourselves to realize that we put too much into the season to lie over and play dead for the last two games."

"I looked up and I saw Toronto was up 30 or whatever," said Collins. "That's why I was even more determined that Kwame [Brown] was going to play more minutes and Etan [Thomas]. I wanted to make sure those guys get a chance to play against the 76ers and [Dikembe] Mutombo and [Derrick] Coleman."

"I kind of wish I could keep going," said Thomas. "I've been working out and working hard all year and now I'm getting the opportunity to play and trying to make the most of it and get better. I'm going to work a lot this summer to try to get better."

Said Collins: "Etan is just coming like a freight train. He's playing with that kind of passion and fire that you want in a power forward. I'm excited about him and what he's going to be able to do next season."















Percentages: FG .458, FT .846. 3-point goals: 3-6, .500 (Lue 3-3, Laettner 0-1, Whitney 0-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 5 (Thomas 3, Nesby, K.Brown). Turnovers: 15 (Laettner 3, K.Brown 3, Whitney 2, Lue 2, R.Hamilton 2, Alexander 2, Nesby). Steals: 10 (Alexander 3, R.Hamilton 2, Lue, Laettner, Thomas, Nesby, K.Brown). Technical fouls: None. Flagrant fouls: Lue, 7:26 second. FGFTReb













Percentages: FG .500, FT .800. 3-Point Goals: 4-10, .400 (Harpring 2-2, Coleman 2-3, McKey 0-1, Bell 0-2, Claxton 0-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 5 (Mutombo 3, Coleman 2). Turnovers: 16 (Snow 5, Claxton 3, Mutombo 2, Coleman 2, Harpring 2, McKey, Blount). Steals: 7 (Claxton 3, Snow 2, McKey, Harpring). Technical Fouls: None. Washington27251821-91


A-20,823 (20,444). T-2:12. Officials-Steve Javie, Monte McCutchen, Rodney Mott.

Next for Wizards

Opponent:Indiana Pacers

Site:MCI Center, Washington

When:Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

Radio:WTEM (980 AM)

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