It's over: Sixers beat Pistons to halt losing streak at 26

Fans cheer at the end of the Detroit Pistons at Sixers basketball game on March 29, 2014. Sixers won 123-98. ( ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer )
Fans cheer at the end of the Detroit Pistons at Sixers basketball game on March 29, 2014. Sixers won 123-98. ( ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer )
Posted: March 31, 2014

Break up the 76ers.

OK, maybe it's early for that. But their 26-game, record-tying losing streak came to an end Saturday night. Dominating from start to finish, the Sixers defeated the Detroit Pistons, 123-98, at the Wells Fargo Center.

They improved to 16-57 while winning their first game since besting the Boston Celtics on Jan. 29. It was their first home victory since topping the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 15. Since then, they had lost 18 straight at Wells Fargo.

The Sixers downplayed the victory.

"It's just like another win," reserve guard Tony Wroten said. "It's the NBA. You all are talking about the pressure. We weren't worried about a streak. We were just trying to get better every day."

Sixers coach Brett Brown said he never mentioned the losing streak to his team.

"I never went into a room and said, 'We have to get out of the streak,' " he said. "We talked about, 'Let's bang out great days.' I'm glad tonight that the win validates that."

The win was a big lift for a franchise that turned into the laughingstock of professional sports during the skid.

ESPN had been poking fun at the team after each of its recent losses. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon even roasted the Sixers Friday night for losing 26 consecutive games.

That's because they equaled the run of futility established by the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the 1976 and 1977 seasons. The Cleveland Cavaliers tied that record and set an NBA mark with 26 straight losses during the 2010-11 season.

No. 27 never came, as the Sixers dominated the lifeless Pistons (26-47), handing them their 11th loss in 13 games.

The Sixers scored a season-high 70 points in the first half. They also had a season-best 32-point lead (98-66) late in the third quarter. The game was so out of hand that fans were chanting, "Thank you, Detroit," with 3 minutes, 55 seconds remaining. The crowd then gave the Sixers a standing ovation in the closing seconds.

"I think we came out with fire like we try to do in a lot of these other games," Sixers rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams said. "We didn't change anything. We wanted to win the ball game just like we've been doing every single day, every game, and every practice, just going out there playing hard."

Carter-Williams and power forward Thaddeus Young finished with 21 points apiece. Center Henry Sims (16 points), swingman Hollis Thompson (14), and reserve guard Elliot Williams (13) were the Sixers' other double-digit scorers.

Wroten added seven points after missing the last three games with a right-ankle sprain.

While they were made fun of, the Sixers said the losing streak didn't affect them.

Sacrificing wins has been part of the team's plan since Sam Hinkie was hired as general manager in May. The Sixers are using this season for player development, evaluating talent, and developing a culture. In the process, they hope to lose enough games to secure a top pick in the NBA draft in June.

"Our judgment day isn't today, and it won't be tomorrow," Brown said before the game. "We are on a three- to five-year plan. Obviously, we want to win. We want to win every time we come on the floor. I coach to win. Our players play to win."

Surely this victory provided relief for the Sixers, right?

"Not a relief," Thompson said. "It's just a sign that we have been doing the right things and working on the right things, and it's finally playing off."

Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings received two technical fouls and was thrown out of the game with 1:18 left in the first quarter. Power forward Greg Monroe led Detroit with 20 points.

Sixers reserve center Byron Mullens sat out with a left-ankle sprain.


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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