Sixers tie NBA record with 26th straight loss

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Sixers tie NBA record with 26th straight loss

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HOUSTON – The 76ers continue to lose, and James Anderson continues to flourish against the Rockets, his former team.

Anderson’s 30 points led the Sixers. But they needed more players that can shoot to keep up with the Rockets, who en route to a 120-98 win at Toyota Center on Thursday, handed the 76ers their 26th consecutive loss (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers' defeat matched the NBA record for most consecutive losses in a single season set by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11. In the process, the 76ers lowered their record to 15-57.

“We try not to pay any attention to it but we have a lot of people talking about it, so it’s hard to ignore,” Anderson said from a depressed locker room. “We’re in a rebuilding process and we have a lot of guys fighting for a job next year and we’ll continue to improve and fight for the rest of the year.

“We can’t get down. We don’t want to hang our head on this. We’re trying to win every time we go out.”

Earlier Thursday, 76ers coach Brett Brown said he was proud and pleased to coach this team, despite the mounting losses.

“Had we sprinkled those 15 wins out differently, the attention wouldn’t be as it is,” Brown said. “We still don’t have the poorest record in the league.”

Anderson tried his best to get a win for the Sixers, who shot only 38.9 percent from the field (35 of 90) and were 14 of 36 on three-pointers. The 6-foot-6 Anderson was 11 of 18 shooting, 6 of 11 on threes.

In an earlier meeting this year, a 123-117 home overtime win for the Sixers, Anderson hit a game-tying three with 6.6 seconds left to force overtime. En route to 36 points that game, Anderson was 12 of 16 shooting, 6 of 8 on three-pointers.

Both of Anderson’s career 30-plus point games have come against the Rockets.

Anderson said one reason he plays well against the Rockets is because of James Harden, who led the Rockets on Thursday with 26 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds while playing only three quarters. Anderson likes being tested against one of the league’s premier players.

“To go up against a great talent like James Harden, I got to embrace it and take the challenge,” Anderson said.

Michael Carter-Williams, one of the league’s top rookies, had 10 assists but was only 2 of 11 from the field, missing all three of his three-point attempts. He’s well aware of the losing streak that the 76ers will attempt to end on Saturday at home versus Detroit.

“After the game a couple of guys had long faces, including myself,” Carter-Williams said. “It is important we don’t get down on ourselves.

“It’s a tough thing to swallow. This is a great group of guys still fighting, still trying to win.”

A reverse layup by Anderson tied the game 43-43. But an alley-oop dunk by Dwight Howard from Jeremy Lin gave the Rockets a 45-43 lead with 5:59 remaining in the second quarter. After Anderson’s basket, the Rockets outscored the Sixers 20-6 to take a 63-49 halftime advantage.

“There were periods we lost focus,” Brown said. “Small things like that, there’s no wiggle room. There’s no margin of error with us.

“If we are going to steal a win, you just can’t have those small periods out there.”

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Nerlens Noel’s recent comments on the logjam of big men on the Sixers' roster did not come as news to head coach Brett Brown. While Noel had not been this publicly outspoken on the issue, he and Brown have been having open discussions about it. 

“I have been talking to Nerlens a lot and I have a fondness for him,” Brown said Tuesday on the first day of training camp. “I don’t begrudge Nerlens Noel at all for what he said. I don’t have any problems with it.”

The Sixers' crowded frontcourt this season is a continuation of last season’s conundrum in which Brown was tasked with playing Noel and Jahlil Okafor, two natural centers, together. The depth has increased with the return of Joel Embiid and additions of Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. 

So when Noel doubled down on Monday by saying, "I don't see a way it can work,” Brown recognized where the center's opinions were coming from as he enters his fourth season in the NBA. 

“I feel if we do anything well, we communicate with our players freely,” Brown said. “It is one hundred percent transparent — hard conversations ahead, easy conversations ahead. I have spoken with Nerlens about this a lot. 

“My messaging and my mood and attitude and things that come out of my mouth haven’t changed once. I feel very confident that I’m giving him the advice that he should hear from me and it still allows me to do my job. 

“We have talked about it freely, like I have talked about it with Jahlil and Joel. Those situations are part of pro sports. They’re ever-present with me and us right now.”

Noel has been a rare mainstay among a revolving door of players over the past three years. He is in a unique situation with Brown in that the two have experienced a long list of the team’s ups and downs together. Noel feels comfortable talking honestly with Brown about his viewpoints. 

“I’ve known Brett probably longer than most guys here and we’ve built a different type of relationship,” Noel said. “It’s been very front and forward and we talk and we keep it real. That’s what he’s been doing with me and that’s why I’m able to continue to talk to him about myself and him just telling me what position I’ll be in — he’ll try to put me in — to succeed.”

With Brown having an understanding of Noel, his focus is on what Noel can bring to the team this season. He believes Noel has an edge over Embiid and Okafor for minutes early on because Noel is the only one among the trio starting camp without restrictions from previous injuries. 

There is a tough competition for playing time among the bigs, and camp is about proving oneself through basketball, not through personal opinions. Brown was impressed on the first day of camp by the manner in which Noel approached the morning practice amid the comments.

“He has handled it with me and in the training session today like a pro,” Brown said. “He came to mean it. He didn’t back down at all. There was no moping or sulking or him being stubborn. He played. That’s what he has to do. I think that’s a real reflection of anybody of how you handle adversity. Today he handled it like a true pro and a true competitor.”

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.