PHILADELPHIA – Desperate to see a victory again, Philadelphia fans wouldn’t even wait for the end, standing to cheer as time was running out in the third quarter.
By then it was clear: The 76ers were going to win for the first time in two months, and they were going to do it with ease.
Philadelphia snapped its NBA record-tying, 26-game losing streak, routing the Detroit Pistons 123-98 on Saturday night to avoid establishing the longest skid in U.S. major pro sports history.
“It’s not something I want to be a part of,” 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams said, “so it’s great that we got this win.”
Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young each scored 21 points for Philadelphia, which won for the first time since beating Boston exactly two months ago and did it impressively, leading by as much as 32 points. The Sixers also ended an 18-game home losing streak, which was one shy of another NBA record.
Beaten badly a number of times during their skid, Philly got to experience life on the other side, ringing up a season-high 70 points in the first half.
The Sixers’ 26 straight losses equaled the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and also the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who dropped 26 straight from Sept. 12, 1976-Dec. 4, 1977.
“We were just happy to get a win,” Young said. “I don’t think it was for the streak or anything like that, we just wanted to go out there and win a basketball game and continue to just play.”
Henry Sims added 16 points for Philadelphia, which hadn’t won before its home crowd since beating Charlotte on Jan. 15. Fans in the crowd of 17,438 were into it from the start and grew louder throughout, standing and cheering in the final seconds of the third and then getting up again to deliver a standing ovation for the final 45 seconds of the game.
Greg Monroe had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons, who lost for the 11th time in 13 games. Blown out a night earlier by Miami, they made the 76ers look as good as the Heat with a sloppy effort that included 18 turnovers, many after starting point guard Brandon Jennings was ejected in the first quarter.
“They came out and competed tonight. They wanted it more than we did,” Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey said.
The Sixers were expected to be among the NBA’s worst teams, though they briefly fooled everyone when they opened the season by beating Miami and Chicago during a 3-0 start. But they look nothing like that team now, having traded three of their top players before February’s trade deadline and replacing them with what coach Brett Brown said is the youngest team in league history, one that has been unprepared or perhaps just unqualified to win NBA games.
“Our judgment day isn’t today and it won’t be tomorrow,” Brown said before the game. “We’re on a three to five-year plan.”
Clippers 118, Rockets 107
In Houston, Chris Paul had 30 points and 12 assists and Jamal Crawford added 22 points as Los Angeles clinched its franchise-record third straight playoff appearance by stopping the Rockets’ five game winning streak.
Spurs 96, Pelicans 80
In San Antonio, Marco Belinelli scored 18 points and the Spurs never trailed after their opening possession to extend their winning streak to 17 games by beating New Orleans.
Wizards 101, Hawks 97
In Washington, John Wall scored 25 points and Drew Gooden had 16 as the Wizards inched closer to their first playoff spot since 2008 with a win over free-falling Atlanta.
Mavericks 103, Kings 100
In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 points and the Mavericks avoided a potentially serious blow to their playoff hopes by rallying in the fourth quarter to beat Sacramento.
Heat 88, Bucks 67
In Milwaukee, Chris Bosh scored 14 points and LeBron James had 13 as short-handed Miami wrapped up its three-game trip through the Midwest with a victory over the Bucks.
James Jones added 10 for the Heat in place of star guard Dwyane Wade, sidelined a second straight game with a sore hamstring. Miami also played without Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers.