April 10, 2014

With one of the league's top rookies facing a potential suspension and their top rebounder hurting, the Philadelphia 76ers are hardly in any shape to end their historic run of futility.

Jahlil Okafor is still slated to play while Nerlens Noel's status is murkier as the 76ers attempt to avoid matching the NBA's worst start Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Boston police announced this weekend that a man filed a report claiming that he was the victim in a fight with Okafor outside a nightclub early Thursday morning. That department said Friday it wouldn't investigate the incident unless someone came forward.

That means the No. 3 overall draft pick could face team and league discipline as well as a possible court date.

"It was definitely dumb on my part," Okafor said before a 116-114 loss in Houston on Friday. "Something I'm embarrassed about. Still dealing with the league and the team but I'm not happy about it all. We're still going through the process of what we're going to do."

Okafor, averaging 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds, was held to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting and six boards against the Rockets. Robert Covington scored a career-high 28 points, but the 76ers' franchise-record 16 3-pointers were not enough to keep the them from blowing a fourth-quarter lead for the fourth consecutive game.

"This one was a little bit different because we clawed out way back. We got down 16 points in the third and we found a way to go ahead," coach Brett Brown said. "It really wasn't a game where we were holding on to a lead."

Noel, averaging 8.4 rebounds, sat out with a sore right knee as the 76ers (0-17) set a U.S. major professional sports record with their 27th consecutive loss. It's unclear if he'll be available to help them avoid matching the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets' 0-18 start.

Philadelphia barely avoided that unwanted mark last season, winning 85-77 at Minnesota on Dec. 3 following 17 consecutive defeats.

The 76ers have lost five in a row to the Grizzlies (9-8) but took them to overtime in a 120-115 home defeat Dec. 13. They've dropped four of five in Memphis and have lost their past two games there by a combined 40 points, taking a 101-83 defeat Jan. 24.

Philadelphia has lost 15 in a row on the road dating back to March 29 and will match its longest skid there since 1987-88 with another defeat.

"You can say their backs are against the wall but it's really not because they're still out there hunting for that first win," Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee said. "They're playing pressure free and they're playing loose. Those are the most dangerous teams."

Memphis had a four-game home win streak snapped and suffered just their second loss in the past eight overall games with a 116-101 defeat to Atlanta on Friday.

It was the first time Memphis allowed 100 or more points in five games. The Grizzlies yielded an average of 91.3 points in their previous four contests, and they've given up 92.5 in the last four matchups with the 76ers while outshooting them 50.8 percent to 42.2.

Mike Conley had a career-high 36 points in the overtime win in Philadelphia in December but had just nine while sitting out the fourth quarter in the victory in Memphis.

Zach Randolph, who has been sidelined the past five games because of an ailing right knee, could be a game-time decision for this one. He's averaged 20.5 points on 72.0 percent shooting and 12.5 rebounds in last season's two meetings.

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