After finally ending their nightmare with an elusive first victory, the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers are hoping they won't have to wait nearly as long for the next one.
As prized rookies Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis meet for the first time, the visiting 76ers go after their first consecutive wins in 8 1/2 months Wednesday night against the New York Knicks.
Philadelphia (1-18), which hadn't won since March 25, snapped a 28-game slide that was the longest in major U.S. professional sports in Tuesday's 103-91 home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
''Finally,'' said forward Nerlens Noel, who had 14 points and nine rebounds while coming off the bench for the second time this season.
Robert Covington led six double-digit scorers with 23 and hit 5 of 11 from 3-point range.
The third-year forward has found his rhythm after battling a knee injury earlier this season. He's averaging 18.8 points while hitting 21-of-47 (44.7 percent) from long range over his last six games.
Now Philadelphia can avoid the worst 20-game start in NBA history at 1-19, set by the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets, with its first back-to-back wins since March 18-20 versus Detroit and New York.
Noel led the way with 23 points and 14 boards in that 97-81 victory over the Knicks that marked the 76ers' only win over the last six meetings. They've lost three straight at Madison Square Garden.
“We're going to get greedy,” coach Brett Brown told the team's official website. “We want a little bit more.”
These once-proud franchises finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference last season, netting the third and fourth picks in the 2015 draft. Okafor, who went third to Philadelphia, leads all rookies with 17.2 points per game but has totaled 32 while shooting 35.1 percent over his last three while dealing with some off-the-court issues.
The center has been cited for reckless driving and driving at an excessive rate of speed, and also was involved in two fights while leaving nightclubs. Okafor has apologized for his poor decision making and Brown said the 19-year-old will be accompanied by team security on public outings.
Porzingis, however, has become a fan favorite after he was booed by hundreds of frustrated Knicks fans on draft night when he was announced as the team's fourth selection. The 20-year-old leads all rookies with 9.4 rebounds per game and ranks third with 13.7 points.
He's been more productive of late, averaging 17.0 points and 11.6 boards over his last five games. He posted his eighth double-double Sunday with 20 and 13 in a 116-111 overtime loss to Houston.
After shooting 35.7 percent over its previous three games, New York (8-10) shot a season-high 57.7 percent Sunday but committed a season-worst 23 turnovers in its fourth straight defeat.
“If we just kind of stay in our roles and allow each other to do what we do best, we'll have more successful nights,” veteran guard Arron Afflalo said.
With Carmelo Anthony sidelined due to illness, Afflalo had his best game as a Knick with 31 points against the Rockets.
Anthony, averaging a team-high 22.1 points, is expected to return against the 76ers. The All-Star totaled 52 points and 18 rebounds while playing in two of the four meetings last season.
Brothers Jerami (Philadelphia) and Jerian Grant (New York), sons of former 76ers forward Harvey Grant, will face each other for the first time in the NBA.
- Arron Afflalo
- Carmelo Anthony
- Jahlil Okafor
- Jerian Grant
- Kristaps Porzingis
- Nerlens Noel
- New York Knicks
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Robert Covington