Washington: The Washington Wizards exploited Philadelphia rookie Ben Simmons' weakness at the free throw line on Wednesday, but their "hack-a-Ben" strategy failed to produce a win.
Trailing by as many as 24 points in the third quarter, the Wizards intentionally fouled Simmons relentlessly in the fourth, sending the 21-year-old Australian to the line 24 times in the quarter -- an NBA record.
The strategy paid dividends as the Wizards closed to within three points, but the 76ers held on for a 118-113 victory.
"When you're down 24, anything's in play," Washington coach Scott Brooks said. "You're just trying to do whatever it takes to give us a chance to cut the lead."
Simmons finished the night making 15 of his total 29 free throw attempts. He collected career highs of 31 points and 18 rebounds and said he just tried to stay focused as he was fouled on possession after possession in the fourth.
"I'm going to the line, shooting free throws, so I've just got to make them," he said.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said he couldn't fault Washington for going with the controversial strategy.
The Sixers adopted it themselves against DeAndre Jordan in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last season.
"It did stretch out the game," Brown said. "Then you're in a decision -- do you take (Simmons) out of the game or do you roll with him?
"Tonight, we decided to roll with Ben and it's going to be part of his evolution. He's going to have a long career. He's going to have to learn to navigate through this."
Simmons was grateful for his coach's confidence.
"I never want to come out of a situation like that," he said. "He knows my mentality. I'm not scared to take the free throws."
And, Simmons vowed, his free-throw woes won't last forever.
"It's not going to happen for that much longer," he said. "I'm going to knock them down."