By Kristie Rieken | Associated Press
HOUSTON -- The Philadelphia 76ers tied the NBA record with their 26th straight loss Thursday night, as James Harden’s triple-double led the Houston Rockets to a 120-98 victory.
Harden had 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in three quarters for his second career triple-double as Houston picked up its fifth straight victory.
The 76ers (15-57) stuck around early before a big second-quarter run allowed the Rockets to pull away and roll to the win.
Philadelphia matched the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA’s worst skid and can set the record at home against Detroit on Saturday.
James Anderson led the Sixers with 30 points and made six 3-pointers.
The Sixers haven’t won since Jan. 29 and are two games away from going winless in two straight months. There was very little visible emotion as the final seconds ticked away and the players slowly made their way off the court.
Dwight Howard added 17 points with 13 rebounds for Houston. Terrence Jones had 20 points.
There were a number of lowlights as the 76ers took their spot in history. One came when Howard blocked a shot by Thaddeus Young and he fell backward to the ground. By the time he got up, the Rockets were already on the other end of the court running their offense.
Another was when the Sixers got a steal, but gave it back seconds later when Young’s pass intended for Anderson sailed high over his head and into the crowd.
Rookie Michael Carter-Williams got in on the bad play action when, under heavy pressure from Harden, he simply threw the ball into the Philadelphia bench in the second quarter.
But the game wasn’t without some nice plays by the NBA’s youngest team, which has continued to play hard during this terrible stretch. A highlight came when Casper Ware grabbed a steal and made a 46-foot heave as time expired in the first quarter.
That shot was part of a 12-0 run which got the Sixers within 35-33 early in the second quarter.
A nice reverse layup by Anderson tied it at 43-all midway through the second quarter before Houston used a 20-6 run to take a 63-49 lead at halftime.
The Sixers missed nine shots, including three layups, and had four turnovers as the Rockets built the lead.
Houston was up by 17 late in the third quarter when the team went on an 8-0 run to pad the lead to 96-71.
Coach Brett Brown addressed the dreadful stretch before the game and said he wouldn’t feel bad for himself or his team if they were to tie the mark.
“We don’t talk about streaks,” he said. “I don’t even mention it to them and that’s my mission for them. I want them to continue to improve.”
And he isn’t interested in anyone’s pity.
“I hope they feel good about themselves,” he said. “I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for us or hanging our head ... we are going through something and we will get through it together.”
He also discussed their plan for rebuilding at length, saying he knew what he was getting into when he took the job and insisted this skid hasn’t been difficult for him.
“I can tell you very, very sincerely that this is something that in a twisted way is enjoyable in regards to watching the young guys get better,” he said. “Obviously at times it’s hard going through it ... (but) I feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”
None of that can erase the fact that this streak now has its place in history as one of the worst in all of the four major professional sports.
According to STATS LLC, the longest streaks in the other major sports are held by:
— In the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 26 losses in a row, from Sept. 12, 1976-Dec. 4 1977.
— In MLB, the Philadelphia Phillies, 23 losses in a row, from Jan. 29, 1961-Aug. 20, 1961.
— In the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins, 18 losses in a row, from Jan. 13, 2004-Feb. 22, 2004.