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76ers Win To Avoid Setting A New NBA Losing-Streak Record

After weeks filled with nothing but losses, the Philadelphia 76ers finally won a basketball game Saturday night, ending a 26-game losing streak that had tied the worst in NBA history. Their last previous win came on Jan. 29.

"It's over," declared the headline at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Just one day earlier, a columnist for the newspaper had declared that infamy was "hovering over the 76ers like a buzzard eying a carcass."

But on Saturday night, the lowly 76ers (16-57) put away the nearly equally lowly Detroit Pistons (26-47) after building on their best first half of the season, in which they scored 70 points. The final score was 123-98.

From member station WHYY in Philadelphia, Emma Jacobs reports that the team's fans were relieved to get a win:

"This season, the Philadelphia 76ers have inspired a lot of language you can't play on the radio.

"But after tonight's win, Tim Lanzone now owes his friend Mac a burger.

"Lanzone says, 'A season like this there's a lot of small victories you gotta celebrate. And this is one of those small victories. And they didn't just win, they won by a lot which shows we got some pride left and it's a good win.'

"The team has been doing what it's called rebuilding, shedding its most expeirenced players to free up cash and get good picks in next year's lottery. They have brought in young, inexperienced players who are playing their hearts out and finally beat the Pistons by 25 points."

The 76ers organization has been the butt of many jokes during its losing streak, particularly after sending an email to fans recently that touted "a very exciting time" to follow the team. The jabs came from all directions, from ESPN to Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show.

But members of the team say the streak wasn't ever their focus. From The Inquirer:

"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.' "

With Saturday's win, the 76ers remain tied with the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers for the most consecutive losses in the NBA. Among pro teams in the U.S., they're on a par with the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the worst losing streak.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.