Friday, March 28, 2014
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers are on the cusp of winning the NBA's version of The Biggest Loser.
Think of all the can't-watch-this bad basketball in the league's history. The seven-win Charlotte Bobcats in 2011-12 could only muster a 23-game skid. The 1972-73 Sixers that went 9-73; just 20 straight losses. Those old Clippers and Grizzlies teams that couldn't even crack double-digit win totals didn't come close to 26.
None of them lost as many consecutive games as the Sixers. They have lost 26 straight games, a winless stretch has been matched in NBA history only by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Houston's 120-98 win over the Sixers on Thursday night matched the mark, prompting the back page of Friday's Philadelphia Daily News to run with the headline, "The Big SKID MARK."
The 76ers can set the record for NBA ineptitude at home against Detroit on Saturday.
"I'm not even thinking about it," veteran forward Thaddeus Young said.
Added guard James Anderson, "We try not to pay attention to it. But it's tough. There are a lot of people talking about it. It's kind of hard to ignore it."
Try impossible. Not even general manager Sam Hinkie, who orchestrated the takedown that left the roster for scraps, could have predicted this kind of carnage. The Sixers' streak started on Jan. 31 with a 125-99 loss to Atlanta. It stretched into a winless February. An 0-for-March seems possible.
Hope just might be on the way: The Sixers play a Detroit Pistons team that is 26-45 and has lost eight of 10.
Here are five things to know headed into Saturday's game
REMEMBER WHEN: Remember the good ol' days when the 76ers were just 2013-14 bad and not historically awful? Evan Turner thought better days were ahead when he led the Sixers to their last win, a 95-94 victory over Boston on Jan. 29. Turner drove into the key and went up for the short shot that gave the 76ers the win and helped jump them out last place in the Atlantic Division and ahead of the Celtics in the standings. Turner said the win was "huge" for the team's confidence. "We pulled through and came back from giving up a lead." It was the last postgame celebration. The losing streak started two nights later.
BY THE NUMBERS: Oh, where have you gone Darius Johnson-Odom? The Sixers have treated their roster like a deck of cards, constantly shuffling the deck looking for something better. (Or worse?). The latest 10-day pickup was guard Casper Ware. He was playing in Italy for Virtus Bologna of Lega Basket Serie A. The 76ers have used 22 players and seven times this season signed a player to a 10-day contract.
OUR FELLOW LOSERS: The Sixers are closing in on setting the longest losing streak in sports history. According to STATS LLC, the longest streaks in the four major sports are held by: The Cavaliers lost 26 straight from Dec. 20, 2010-Feb. 9, 2011; the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 26 straight from Sept. 12, 1976-Dec. 4 1977; baseball's Philadelphia Phillies lost 23 straight from Jan. 29, 1961-Aug. 20, 1961; and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins lost 18 from Jan. 13, 2004-Feb. 22, 2004.
NOT THE WORST: As bad as the season has been in Philly, the Sixers (15-57) still aren't the worst team in the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks are 14-58 heading into Saturday and are riding an impressive one-game winning streak.
WHAT'S AHEAD: The Sixers can't even count on a home court edge to help them against Detroit. They have lost 18 straight games at the Wells Fargo Center since beating Charlotte on Jan. 15. So if not the Pistons, then which team will be the unlucky one that loses to Philly? The Sixers play four straight games against teams with losing records — Saturday against the Pistons, Monday at Atlanta, Wednesday at Charlotte and April 4 at Boston. The Sixers had a few close calls against good and bad teams of late (hanging tough against Chicago, losing by one point to the Knicks) so an upset against another lottery-positioned teams could happen. But three straight road blowouts put a spotlight on the bleak reality they could end the season on a 36-game losing streak.