The City of Brotherly Love is officially home to the biggest losers in NBA history.
The Sixers suffered a 116–114 defeat to the Rockets in Houston on Friday, thereby setting a new NBA record by losing their 27th consecutive game. The loss dropped Philadelphia to a league-worst 0–17 on the season and extended a losing streak that dates back to the 2014–15 campaign. It also marks the longest losing streak ever in the four major American sports.
There’s more history at stake. If the Sixers lose to the Grizzlies in Memphis on Sunday and the Lakers in Philadelphia on Tuesday, they will fall to 0–19, the worst in NBA history. The ’09-10 Nets opened the season with 18 consecutive losses.
Friday’s loss snapped a three-way tie for the NBA’s longest losing streak. The ’10-11 Cavaliers and the ’13–14 Sixers both lost 26 consecutive games, and those two teams still share the record for most consecutive losses within a single season.
If there’s any silver lining for coach Brett Brown, it’s that Philadelphia has at least been more competitive during this losing streak than the streaks his team just surpassed. The Sixers pushed the Rockets to the final buzzer after recent close losses to the Celtics, Timberwolves and Heat.
Current Sixers streak: 27 games | Average margin of defeat: 11.4 points
2013–14 Sixers: 26 games | Average margin of defeat: 17.1 points
2010–11 Cavaliers: 26 games | Average margin of defeat: 13.7 points
This current Sixers streak includes 10 straight losses to close the ’14-15 season. The last time Philadelphia won a game was 248 days ago: a March 25 victory over the Nuggets. By comparison, the defending champion Warriors have won 27 regular-season games and compiled a 41–7 overall record (including playoffs) during the same time.
Since GM Sam Hinkie was hired in 2013, the Sixers have pursued an aggressive rebuilding philosophy that has emphasized accumulating draft picks, slashing payroll and developing young prospects.
Philadelphia endured a rough summer, losing ’14 lottery pick Joel Embiid for a second straight season-ending injury, missing out on the right to draft No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, and failing to sign any impact free agents. Philadelphia’s losing this season has been driven by anemic guard play, the NBA’s least-efficient offense, and a frontcourt pairing of 2015 lottery pick Jahlil Okafor and 2013 lottery pick Nerlens Noel that has still yet to hit its stride together.
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Okafor, meanwhile, made headlines this week for his involvement in a Boston street fight following a loss to the Celtics. Hecklers reportedly instigated the altercation by mocking Philadelphia’s early-season woes.
Friday’s loss dropped Brown to 37–144 (.204) during his three-year tenure. Brown, a former Spurs assistant, has the second-worst winning percentage of any coach with at least 100 games on his resume. Only Brian Winters, who coached the Grizzlies and Warriors, has a worse mark (.196).
James Harden led the struggling Rockets (5–10) with 50 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in the victory.
Longest losing streaks in the four major American sports
|NFL||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1976–77||26|
|NHL||San Jose Sharks||1992–93||17|