AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As he was walking off the court at halftime, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins asked a favor of one of his captains.
"He was saying talk to the guys, try to keep their spirits up and stuff like that," Thaddeus Young said. "And I told him, 'You have nothing to worry about. Everybody here in this locker room is trying to win this game.'"
With their coach's future in question, the 76ers awoke from pack-it-in mode Friday night, recovering from a 13-point, second-quarter deficit and pulling away in the second half for a 97-86 win, putting to rest the Washington Wizards' goal of becoming the best non-playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers had lost three straight, including two by an average of 22 points since being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Collins spent much of his pregame talk with reporters trying to not answer questions about whether he'll be back as coach next season. Motivation was becoming an issue.
"It would be very easy -- we didn't practice yesterday -- to come in here, throw your sneakers out there, you get down 13 and get beat by 20," Collins said.
Instead, Jrue Holiday scored 22 points to lead five 76ers in double figures, stopping a Wizards team that had generated motivation -- and momentum -- by declaring their goal to catch Philadelphia to help make up for a 4-28 start.
"I think whether it's a conscious thing or a subconscious thing, when you officially get eliminated, it kind of hits you, it takes some of the wind out of your sails," said Spencer Hawes, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. "But then you regroup and refocus and try to take out of it whatever you can from the last however-many games."
Young added 18 points and 13 points for the 76ers, while John Wall scored 24 points to lead the Wizards, who have lost four straight and trail the 76ers by 3
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