Sixers tie NBA record with 26th straight loss

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Sixers tie NBA record with 26th straight loss

BOX SCORE

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.”

Without Joel Embiid, Brett Brown eager to see if Sixers can protect the rim

Without Joel Embiid, Brett Brown eager to see if Sixers can protect the rim

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have been challenged by playing without Joel Embiid in one of two games in a back-to-back series all season. Now they will have to do it in at least the next two straight games. 

“We’re going to be without him tomorrow (against the Clippers) and in Milwaukee and we’ll go from there,” Brett Brown said after practice Monday. 

Embiid, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, suffered a left knee contusion in Friday’s win over the Trail Blazers. He did not travel with the team to Atlanta on Saturday for the back-to-back series. 

Brown called the decision “precautionary.” Embiid did not practice Monday but took some light shots after. He was pre-scheduled to sit out Wednesday against the Bucks in accordance with his limitations for consecutive games. Embiid is reportedly expected to return Friday against the Rockets.

The standout rookie leaves a glaring hole on the court when he misses games. The Sixers are 2-10 when he does not play. For all the ways Embiid dominates at the basket (22.4 points over the last 10 games), there is an obvious difference on the defensive end without him. 

“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”

This is a time when the Sixers’ logjam at the five-spot actually helps them. Brown still has three true centers to turn to, in addition to power forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric, whom he could slide into the position if they go small. Brown sees a silver lining for his bigs in the uphill battle of playing without Embiid. 

“It definitely hurts the team, how can we spin it any other way?” Brown said. “But like anything, you’re going to now look at Nerlens and Jahlil. This is fantastic for those two. It could prove, based on some things, Richaun (Holmes) sees daylight a little bit. 

“There aren’t many teams, I would suspect, that have the ability to roll out three young guys when somebody like Joel goes down and look forward to watching them develop more, look forward to giving them the opportunity to play NBA minutes.”

Okafor has been receiving the start when Embiid is out. (He has been out of the rotation when Embiid does play.) Okafor, though, is dealing with right knee soreness he experienced on Saturday. The Sixers kept an eye on him Monday and held him out of 5-on-5 drills in practice. Okafor said the team was being cautious, and he wanted to rest his knee given the number of games coming up. He is listed as probable against the Clippers.

“It was bothering me a little bit in the warmup lines, I started to feel it. When I got going it started feeling really good, then when I sat out for an extended period it got kind of (got) sore on me again,” Okafor explained. “Today they were trying to make sure I could get back to being a hundred percent because they knew that my knee was bothering me. They haven’t really told me what the plan was for tomorrow. Today was really focused on getting me back to being healthy.”

The Clippers are shorthanded as well. Blake Griffin has been sidelined since Dec. 18 because of a right knee procedure and Chris Paul had surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left thumb. Griffin could make his return against the Sixers.

Embiid's honor
Embiid's Player of the Week honor is rare for a rookie. He's only the third Sixers rookie ever to win it, joining Allen Iverson and Michael Carter-Williams.

The last Sixer before Embiid to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week was Thaddeus Young in January 2014. 

The Sixers won all three games Embiid played last week. He averaged 22.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks.

Joel Embiid (left knee) to miss Sixers' next two games

Joel Embiid (left knee) to miss Sixers' next two games

Update: 4 p.m.

Joel Embiid did not practice on Monday and is listed as doubtful for the Sixers' game Tuesday against the Clippers.

Embiid hyperextended his left knee in the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Blazers Friday. He said after the game that the knee was fine, but the Sixers are clearly exercising caution with their young star center.

"I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way," Embiid said Friday. "I'm great. The knee's fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good."

The Sixers are calling it a left knee contusion. Embiid will also rest on Wednesday against the Bucks. He is expected to return Friday against the Rockets, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Sixers are 13-17 when Embiid plays and 2-10 without him. Brett Brown is looking forward to seeing how the defense responds without its centerpiece Tuesday and Wednesday (see story).

Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) was limited at Monday's practice but is probable to play the Clippers.

Okafor had 12 points, four rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes in Saturday's 110-93 loss at Atlanta.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.