The Washington Wizards led the Philadelphia 76ers by 20 points with seven minutes remaining Monday when Coach Randy Wittman looked toward the end of his bench and decided it was a good time to give seldom-used rookie Otto Porter Jr. and third-year swingman Chris Singleton a chance to finish the game with fellow reserves Kevin Seraphin, Martell Webster and Garrett Temple.

The lead became 21 when Porter got fouled on a three-pointer and made 2 of 3 free throws. But Wittman didn’t want his starters to get too relaxed on the bench, telling them to be ready just in case. The trainers didn’t start applying ice packs to knees, and John Wall heeded the advice of an old coach who always told him, “Never unlace your shoes.”

That prudent approach helped the Wizards hold on for a 107-99 victory after the backups treated the lead like a pair of holey socks — and it got down to single digits in less than five minutes. A one-time laugher quickly put the Wizards in survival mode and forced Wittman to call on his starters to close.

“I don’t think they were ready. It’s just too bad for them because they had an opportunity to get some playing time, and they just wasted it,” said Marcin Gortat, who started his career as Dwight Howard’s backup in Orlando. “I know how I was playing my first four years behind Dwight’s back. I was just praying for a few seconds on the court, and every time when I got on the court, I would just die before Coach would sub me out. I’m just glad we got the win.”

The Wizards still played well enough to win for the fourth time in five games behind Bradley Beal’s scoring and playmaking, Gortat’s rebounding and interior defense and Seraphin’s unexpected offensive burst after playing a total of 82 seconds in the previous four games. At 20-20, the Wizards are at .500 again with a fifth chance to claim a winning record Wednesday when they host the Boston Celtics. The Wizards have treated the topic of getting over the hump as taboo, but Wittman wants his players to focus on something else.

“It’s not a magical thing. I don’t think all of a sudden fairy dust is going to fall on us if we get over .500 and we’re not going to lose another game,” Wittman said. “We just got to continue to play the right way. That’s all I want to do.”

With Wall having a pedestrian performance (14 points, five assists) after doing much of the heavy lifting last week, Beal bounced back from one the worst shooting nights of his career to lead the Wizards with 22 points, a season-high nine rebounds and eight assists, tying a career high. After missing 12 of 14 shots in a loss against the Pistons on Saturday, Beal said he had to have “amnesia” and moved on. He also got a phone call from his mother, Besta, who “went off on me that I had to get my head out of my butt and shoot the ball the right way.”