76ers look to extend winning streak when they face Suns
The Philadelphia 76ers, who in recent years have redefined futility, will be looking to extend a rare (if modest) winning streak when they host the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
The Sixers equaled the NBA record for consecutive losses in a single season by dropping 26 games in a row in 2013-14, and set a league mark by dropping 28 straight spanning the '14-15 and '15-16 seasons.
They finished 10-72 last year, falling one loss shy of equaling the worst full-season record in NBA history, established by Philadelphia's 1972-73 team.
Their 109-102 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday was, however, their second straight at home. They followed that up with a 110-86 defeat Thursday night at Minnesota, extending their road losing streak to 21 games, dating back to last season. The franchise record is 23, from March 29 to Dec. 23, 2015.
Wednesday's game was billed as a matchup of two of the game's best young centers, the Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns and the Sixers' Joel Embiid. Towns, however, finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Embiid collected 10 points and 10 boards.
Minnesota's Anthony Wiggins led his team with 35 points and 10 rebounds, while Dario Saric topped the Sixers with 16 points.
“This (Timberwolves) group that you are looking at played with each other all last year — many, many, many games together,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer after the game.
Minnesota shot 50.6 percent, limited the Sixers to 37.3-percent accuracy and owned a 49-40 rebounding advantage.
“It's just part of the evolution, where we are at,” Brown told the Inquirer. “They are two years ahead of us. It's on me and my staff to keep our guys up and help them.”
Embiid, who sat out his first two seasons as a result of a pair of foot surgeries, is being limited to 24 minutes a night as a precaution. The team's leading scorer (17.0) and rebounder (7.6), he has also been held out of four games to date. The Sixers have not yet said whether he will be available Saturday.
Seven players cracked double figures, five of them reserves, as the Suns (4-9) snapped a three-game losing streak by winning 116-96 at Indiana on Friday night, Phoenix's third game in a six-game road trip. One of those subs, Brandon Knight, led the way with 17 points, while Jared Dudley and Alan Williams provided 16 and 15 off the bench, respectively.
The Suns enjoyed a 78-35 advantage in bench scoring.
The Sixers will be without forward Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the most recent draft, until at least January. He is recovering from foot surgery. Guard Jerry Bayless (wrist) has also yet to play, but he has ramped up his workouts and has said he hopes to return by the end of the month.
Center/forward Nerlens Noel, who had been rehabbing from surgery on his left knee in Alabama, returned to Philadelphia on Friday, according to the Inquirer. He has also yet to play this season.