As poorly as the Houston Rockets have fared lately, their next opponent has already endured much worse this season.
The Philadelphia 76ers will try to avoid hitting another new low Friday night with the longest losing streak in U.S. major professional sports history.
With 26 consecutive defeats dating back to March 27, Philadelphia tied a record established by the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976-77 for the second time in three seasons. The 76ers' other 26-game skid was from Jan. 31-March 27, 2014.
"How many streaks have I been a part of?" said coach Brett Brown, whose tenure began in 2013-14. "I'm numb to it."
The 76ers (0-16) have blown fourth-quarter leads in each of their last three defeats and squandered an 11-point advantage in Wednesday's 84-80 loss to Boston, scoring three points in the final 6:15.
"It is hard," forward Nerlens Noel said. "You're so close to getting that first W. There's couple of plays that you've got to sleep on."
Philadelphia is also on the verge of matching its franchise-worst 0-17 start from last season and two losses shy of equaling the New Jersey Nets' league-worst 0-18 mark in 2009-10. The 76ers, in the midst of a six-game trip that ends Sunday, have lost 14 straight on the road and are 0-9 this season.
Philadelphia's league-worst offense (89.8 points per game) will try to exploit one of the worst defenses. Houston is allowing 106.8 points per contest.
The 76ers have topped 90 just twice in its last eight games while the Rockets (5-10) have allowed fewer than 100 just once this season, a 96-84 loss in Memphis last Friday.
Another one of James Harden's high-scoring performances and Patrick Beverley's return from an injured left ankle did little to stem Houston's recent woes Wednesday. Harden had 40 points in a 102-93 home loss to Memphis and Beverley scored four in 19 minutes off the bench after missing five games.
The guard also missed two contests earlier this season because of a concussion.
Houston has lost seven of its last eight and earned that lone win, 108-103 in overtime against visiting Portland on Nov. 18, the same day coach Kevin McHale was fired. The Rockets are 1-3 under interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
"We've had meetings. We've talked too much. Now things have to turn around," said Harden, averaging a career-high 28.7 points. "Of course, we are all frustrated but the confidence is still there. We're getting a lot of open shots that we normally make but they're just not falling. So it's putting more pressure on our defense. We've got to continue to take those shots."
Houston has won three in a row over Philadelphia, but the latest victory against the moribund franchise was hardly easy. The Rockets needed Harden's layup with nine seconds left for an 88-87 win Nov. 14, 2014.
Harden had 35 points in the Rockets' fourth consecutive home win in the series and is averaging 31.6 in his past five matchups.
This game will feature one of the best emerging centers in the league, Jahlil Okafor, facing Houston's Dwight Howard for the first time.
Okafor, averaging 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds, just missed his third consecutive double-double Wednesday with 19 points and nine boards. Howard, meanwhile, is averaging 13.6 points - his fewest since his 2004-05 rookie season - but is tied for second in the league with 12.7 rebounds per game.