The stat is accurate, however, if less than surprising. As the Sixers have drifted along this season, gaining a bit of momentum now and then, particularly in the last six weeks, a long winning streak has always eluded them.
There are two possible reasons, and we'll list both of them here:
This group is getting better, but hasn't quite turned the corner yet.
This group only appears to be getting better, and couldn't find the corner even with a bloodhound, a GPS tracking device, and those guys who followed Butch and Sundance across Bolivia.
So which is it?
This won't be a popular answer, but the truth is that it's hard to tell yet. The Sixers might be heading in the right direction, but their mission for this season has been so drastically altered that any progress could be a mirage.
When the team started the season 7-22, a mess that included a 12-game losing streak and the puzzling decision to rehire Allen Iverson, the Sixers went from trying to be something different to merely trying to be. The season became a search for survival, and new coach Eddie Jordan had to jettison all his pretty ideas the way a shipwrecked heiress will throw the heavy jewelry overboard when the lifeboat begins to take on water.
Princeton offense? Splash! Instinctive read-and-react basketball? Ker-plop! Build for the future with youth? Glug! Glug! Glug!
The boat is riding a little higher now - the team is 10-9 since Dec. 28 - but whether it will ever reach shore is another question. Jordan did what he had to do (probably mindful that the last time the Sixers fired a coach, it was after a 9-14 start), and he did it in a fairly standard way.
Saddled with a team that played horrendous defense, Jordan tried to cut down on the amount of time the team had to play it. He did that by slowing down the offense and running much more of it through power forward Elton Brand. That's Chapter 1 in every coaching manual, and there's nothing necessarily exciting or meaningful about it. Going 10-9 only seems good if you start 7-22, after all.
What has been a bright spot for the Sixers, however, is how Brand has responded. His first season here was a waste, as he showed up not fully healed from Achilles surgery and then was lost to a shoulder separation. In between, he was merely lost, as Maurice Cheeks and then Tony DiLeo tried to figure out how to use him in the offense when no opponent respected the outside shooting. Neither came up with the answer.
Jordan hasn't solved the riddle, either, but he shoved Brand closer to the basket, and the power forward's shooting accuracy, which was around 45 percent for much of the season, has been over 50 percent since.
Brand scored a season high of 26 points in a win over Chicago on Wednesday night, which marked the first time this season that both Brand and Andre Iguodala, the supposed stars of this team, have scored at least 20 points in the same game. Of course, it took overtime to achieve that and a night off for Iverson, but still.
The acquisition of Brand doesn't look like such a mistake now, but his added minutes and larger role have stunted somewhat the development of Thaddeus Young and Marreese Speights, particularly since Jordan still gives 25 to 30 minutes to Sam Dalembert. It's fine for current stability, but lousy for getting somewhere in the future.
In the same way, the 30-plus minutes chewed up by Iverson (who has been acceptable on the court, don't get me wrong) isn't doing much for Lou Williams or Jrue Holiday, who still has a lot to learn but could teach Iverson volumes about on-the-ball defense. And then there is Iguodala, who gets more minutes than any of them and is a nice player but unfortunately still lacks a position
Stefanski might find a way to break this logjam before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. He should look into it. Otherwise, this season will have been a long cruise to nowhere.
Still, the ship is steadier than it was, and it will quietly berth itself in April with no disasters and, probably, no one getting fired. About six weeks ago, that didn't seem very likely.
Maybe the Sixers will even win a third straight game tonight. If so, they will tell you it means something. But don't believe them. Not quite yet.
Contact columnist Bob Ford at 215-854-5842 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/bobford.