76ers top Pelicans to avoid tying league mark for futility
PHILADELPHIA (AP) These 76ers are relieved not to be part of history.
Carl Landry scored 22 points to lead Philadelphia to a 107-93 victory over the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, ensuring that the 76ers won't tie their own league record for fewest victories in an 82-game season.
''We didn't want to be a part of that,'' Landry said. ''We tried to do whatever it took to lock in, in practice, in film sessions and just have a carryover to each and every game.''
Philadelphia improved to 10-68 and now is one win clear of the 1972-73 76ers, who set an NBA mark for futility with a 9-73 mark. The 76ers have four games remaining.
''We hope to get a few more before our season ends,'' Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said, adding he was happy for his players.
''They're good people, they genuinely care (and) they put in a fantastic day's work,'' he said. ''Our record wouldn't indicate that, but they do. And so to get a win and just move on, they deserve that.''
Isaiah Canaan added 16 points for the 76ers, who snapped a 12-game losing streak while winning for just the second time in the last 27 contests.
Landry made his first nine shots before finishing 9 for 10 from the field, including tying a career high with two 3-pointers.
Dante Cunningham led the Pelicans with 19 points and Alexis Ajinca chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The game had more of a D-League feel to it.
The Pelicans started five players who have combined to start just 76 games this season. And only Tim Frazier, whom the Pelicans signed on March 16, entered averaging more than 7.6 points. Joining Frazier in New Orleans' starting five were Luke Babbitt, Toney Douglas, Ajinca and Cunningham.
The Pelicans were missing nearly 100 points of scoring without injured players Anthony Davis (left knee), Ryan Anderson (sports hernia), Tyreke Evans (right knee), Eric Gordon (fractured right ring finger), Jrue Holiday (right inferior orbital wall fracture) and Norris Cole (lower back).
''We don't have any excuses,'' Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. ''You have to make do with what you have. There's no sympathy in this league.''
Helped by Landry's 10 third-quarter points in just 4 1/2 minutes, Philadelphia took an 88-73 lead into the final period.
The 76ers used a 10-3 run to open the final quarter to go in front 98-78 with 9 minutes remaining. T.J. McConnell capped the spurt with a spinning, driving layup that drew fans in the crowd of 10,978 to their feet.
''I didn't see it tonight,'' Gentry said. ''I thought we were trying, but we just didn't have that energy we usually have.''
The fans serenaded Landry with chants of ''M-V-P! M-V-P'' late in the game, something not heard on Philadelphia's home court since the days of recent Hall of Fame inductee Allen Iverson.
Even Landry was surprised by the crowd's reaction.
''I was like, `What? MVP? Me?''' he said. ''It was funny. It definitely put a smile on my face, and it makes me feel good.
''It definitely made me feel good that the fans of Philly, blue-collar people, the majority of them, appreciate the effort that I put in, each and every day.''
Cunningham, a member of Villanova's 2009 Final Four team, wore his Final Four jersey and a Wildcats hat in the visiting locker room after the game.
He's been connecting with former teammates and coach Jay Wright over the last 24 hours.
''I haven't been able to keep my phone charged,'' he said. ''I've been texting the whole time. It's been awesome.''
Along with his Pelicans teammates, Cunningham watched the championship game from a private room in a Philadelphia steakhouse.
''I was screaming the whole time,'' he said. ''It was good.''
He hoped to catch up with Wright and the Wildcats upon their return to Philadelphia on Tuesday, but their arrival didn't match the Pelicans' schedule.
Cunningham received cheers during pregame introductions.
Pelicans: The Pelicans beat the 76ers 121-114 on Feb. 19 in New Orleans. ... The Pelicans, who entered on a two-game winning streak, last won three straight games Jan. 19-23. ... Frazier averaged 5.7 points and 7.2 assists in six games with the 76ers last season. He finished with 12 points.
76ers: The crowd erupted in loud cheers in the first quarter when the 76ers replayed Kris Jenkins' game-winning shot from Villanova's national championship victory over North Carolina on Monday night. ... Canaan strained his left shoulder in the third quarter but later returned. ... Elton Brand made his first start in his 15th game for the 76ers. Brand finished with two points.
Pelicans: At Boston on Wednesday night.
76ers: Host Knicks on Friday night.