NEW YORK—The Philadelphia 76ers equalled the record for the worst losing streak in NBA history on Wednesday, suffering a last-gasp defeat against Boston to chalk up their 26th consecutive loss.
The 76ers led heading into the final minutes, but were overhauled by a late rally from the Celtics, who scraped home 84-80 as Philadelphia’s miserable campaign continued.
Jae Crowder sank a three-pointer with 38.5 seconds left on the clock as Boston produced an 18-3 points rally to win having trailed by 11 points midway through the third quarter.
Philadelphia had led 80-75 with 2:51 left in the game, only to watch as Boston reeled off the final nine points of the match to snatch victory.
The 76ers were left ruing an inability to preserve possession when it counted, finishing with 19 turnovers.
“There’s no excuse for that,” former Celtics guard Phil Pressey said.
The 76ers are now 0-16 for the season, and combined with 10 straight losses last year now have a share of the record for the worst string of defeats in history.
The 2013-14 76ers were the last side to lose 26 straight, a feat emulated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11.
Two more defeats in their next games against Houston on Friday and Memphis on Sunday will take them to 0-18, equalling the worst ever start to an NBA season, set by the New Jersey Nets in 2009-10.
The 76ers’ last victory in a regular season game came against the Denver Nuggets in March.
Isaiah Thomas was the star for the Celtics on Wednesday, pouring on 30 points and six assists in a virtuoso display as Boston improved to 8-7.
The only bright spark for the 76ers was the continued good form of center Jahlil Okafor, his team’s top scorer with 19 points.
More worrying though for the 76ers, it was the third match in a row in which they failed to capitalise on an early lead.
They led Boston 47-40 at half-time on Wednesday; having squandered a 47-32 lead against Miami and a 52-46 advantage against Minnesota.
– No excuses for LeBron –
Elsewhere on Wednesday, LeBron James scored 24 points to pass another points milestone but it was not enough to prevent the Cleveland Cavaliers tumbling to a 103-99 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
James passed Reggie Miller to move into 18th place in the all-time NBA scoring lists with a free throw on his sixth point of the game. AFP
However James’ points benchmark was a footnote to a polished performance from Toronto, with guard Kyle Lowry outstanding with a 27-point haul.
It was the third win in a row for the Raptors, who improved to 10-6 as their Eastern Conference rivals fell to 11-4.
“I didn’t play well, they were the better team,” James said afterwards, brushing off suggestions that injuries and fatigue had caught up with Cleveland.
“Not an excuse,” James said. “We need to hold each other more accountable. We’ve got to play better, and we will, but I don’t think we improved tonight.”
Cavs coach David Blatt however was adamant that his side were suffering from fatigue.
“I thought we ran out of gas,” Blatt said. “I thought fatigue played a big part of it… It’s not an excuse just an observation. We’ve got to do the job with the guys that are out there.”
– Durant back on form –
Kevin Durant’s smooth return from injury continued meanwhile as the Oklahoma City Thunder swept away the Brooklyn Nets 110-99 in Oklahoma.
Durant, playing only his second game since returning from a hamstring strain, piled up 30 points in a decisive win for Thunder, a third consecutive victory which saw them move to 10-6.
Durant sunk 11 of 18 shots from the field while contributing five assists and six rebounds. Russell Westbrook added 27 points, 13 assists and six rebounds.