76ers' skid reaches 25 games
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Brett Brown and the young Philadelphia 76ers are closing in on some dubious NBA history.
Austin Daye had 22 points, Tim Duncan added 19 and the San Antonio Spurs earned their 14th straight win with a 113-91 victory Monday night that sent the 76ers to their 25th consecutive loss.
Philadelphia will face Houston on Thursday with the distinction of being a loss shy of tying the NBA single-season record for consecutive losses set by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11.
Before the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he felt terrible for Brown, now the 76ers' coach.
But he added that he did not feel sorry for "one of my best friends," because pity would upset his former assistant.
"Obviously, it's a rough season for them," Duncan said. "It's a rebuilding season for them. (Brown) knows that, they know that.
"They have a lot of young guys. He's just trying to get the system in place that has them playing the way he wants them playing. It's a process. He knows that."
Philadelphia (15-56) hired Brown hoping he could replicate some of the structure that has made San Antonio so successful. The 76ers saw firsthand how far they have to go.
The Spurs had nine players score at least five points and had 31 assists while shooting 44 for 79 from the field.
"It's tough," Philadelphia point guard Michael Carter-Williams said. "They move the ball really well with the extra pass. They try to move the ball and almost tire you out on defense. You got to be able to rotate and play throughout the shot clock."
Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills scored 15 points each and Cory Joseph added 12 for San Antonio, which maintained the league's best record at 54-16.
The Spurs did not play starters Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green, but did not need them against the lowly 76ers.
Philadelphia only had seven players score, and six of those were in double figures. The 76ers finished with just 22 assists while shooting 41 percent from the field.
Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young each scored 19 points, Byron Mullens added 15 and Elliot Williams had 14 for Philadelphia.
"It felt like they were running 100 miles per hour out there," Young said.
"You take one thing and they pick you apart with something else. You just have to pick your poison with a team like this. They have so many guys who can do different things and so many guys that can make plays."
How effective the Spurs' system can be was evident by who led the team in scoring, Brown said.
Daye, who was averaging 2.3 minutes while playing in only four games since being acquired from Toronto on Feb. 20, finished 6 for 10 on 3-pointers and had six rebounds in 29 minutes.
It was familiar to Brown, who served as an assistant under Popovich for seven seasons.
"He's lucky," Brown said, "and I've seen this over so many years — people can come into that system and shine. This system creates opportunities for everybody, and he took advantage of those. The attention you have to give others and the movement that they have in their structure allowed him to get freed up a lot.
"He reaped the benefit of playing in that system."
The Sixers kept pace early against the Spurs, with Carter-Williams fearlessly driving into the paint for a series of short jumpers and Hollis Thompson hitting a pair of 3s.
Popovich called timeout with 3:44 left in the first quarter after Williams dunked over Duncan to tie it at 19.
Philadelphia's early success awoke the Spurs and brought out the best in Daye. His athleticism and energy were just what San Antonio needed after a listless start.
"He's a skilled guy," Popovich said. "Obviously he can shoot it. But he's also a good passer. He knows how to play the game. It was good to be able to get him some time tonight."
San Antonio went on a 26-5 spurt bridging the first and second quarters, capped by a 19-0 run.
Daye first ran down Carter-Williams, swatting his layup attempt from behind, leading to Leonard's driving layup for a 23-19 lead with 3 minutes left in the opening quarter.
Mullens' 3-pointer snapped a 6½-minute drought, but the Spurs were up 45-27 with 6:35 left in the first half.
Daye then stole an outlet pass on the run, driving directly at a backpedalling Mullens on a 3-on-1 break. Daye faked a behind-the-back pass to Duncan on the left and dished to Joseph on the right, who fed an open Duncan for a layup and a 47-27 lead.
"In my opinion, that's how you play the game," Brown said. "So what you see is a system born out of many, many years of corporate knowledge where the winks and the blinks and the wrinkles and subtle nuances (allow them to) understand each other's tendencies, and the offense shines.
"It's not just a byproduct of good players or a great coach. It's a decade worth of corporate knowledge. That's what you aspire to get to."
The lopsided victory did little to satiate the Spurs or Popovich, who are hoping to return to the NBA Finals after falling to Miami last season in a seven-game series.
"We're playing well through this stretch and winning some games," Duncan said. "Pop is still not satisfied, obviously, with what we're doing. We want to stay healthy. We want to stay moving in the right direction.
"Hopefully we can ride this into the playoffs and feel good going into the playoffs."
It's a bigger-picture mentality Brown has already instilled in the 76ers, if they are looking at it from a completely different perspective given their run of futility.
"I'm not really worried about the streak and what people talk about it," Carter-Williams said. "We're just worried about getting better each and every day. Of course we want to go out there and win a ball game. But we just have to keep getting better and hopefully a win will come."
NOTES: San Antonio's Big Three of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker have played for 39 seasons, which is seven years more experience than the entire Philadelphia roster combined. The 76ers have six rookies on this year's roster. ... Former Spurs F Malik Rose, a Philadelphia native, now serves as an analyst for 76ers television. He filled in for the Spurs in the same capacity before joining Philadelphia's broadcast team.