Doug Collins does not want to hear the word spoiler used in the same sentence as his basketball team.
“We’re not done yet,” Collins said Wednesday night after the 76ers beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 100-92, at the Wells Fargo Center. “Are we eliminated? Thank you. We’re not quitting. We are going to keep playing, man.
“I have never quit before I got to the finish line, and I’m not going to start now. And our team doesn’t have that personality.”
The Sixers (28-43) had six players score in double figures against a Milwaukee team that leads them by 61/2 games in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
The Sixers have 12 games remaining, and the Bucks have a dramatically tougher schedule in front of them. Six of their remaining games are against teams that would be in the playoffs if they began today.
So the Sixers, who won Wednesday for just the sixth time in the last 22 games, are not mathematically eliminated.
“Until the math says it, we are going to keep playing like we are fighting for [the playoffs]”, said Sixers center Spencer Hawes, who finished with 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. “You are always being judged, and you are always being watched. We just want to continue to improve individually and as a team.
“This season didn’t go as we would like, but there is something left, and there is a bright future beyond that.”
Hawes was as important as anyone in helping the Sixers to their fourth win in the last seven games. He notched his fifth double-double in the last seven contests.
Damien Wilkins continued his strong late-season play as well, tying Jrue Holiday with a team-high 18 points.
None of Wilkins’ points were any bigger than the last two, as he converted a steal into a dunk with 41.7 seconds left. It was the final bucket of the night, and it helped spare the Sixers, who blew an 18-point lead in the second quarter and trailed by 83-76 early in the fourth, from what could have been just one more ugly loss.
“I saw it coming a mile away, and I knew he didn’t see me,” Wilkins said of the pass thrown by Ersan Ilyasova, who finished with 13 points and 18 rebounds for Milwaukee. “I knew I had to get it or Doug would have had a fit. So I’m glad I did it.”
Monta Ellis scored 29 points, 19 of which came in the second half, for the Bucks, who lost their fourth straight. They were looking to sweep the season series for the second time.
Bucks coach Jim Boylan may have hurt his team by playing Brandon Jennings for only 17 minutes. Jennings, who averaged more than 26 points in the team’s first three meetings, went scoreless.
“You need to have some intensity, and it was lacking tonight,” Boylan said. “So I felt I needed to do something to energize the team.”