Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points as the Dallas Mavericks sent the Philadelphia 76ers spinning to their 11th straight defeat since the new NBA season began, the worst record of any team in the league.
Nowitzki piled up the points in the final quarter as the 76ers slipped to a 92-86 defeat which left them at 0-11, the only team in the NBA without a win.
The Mavericks were well below their best, with Nowitzki missing 10 of 16 attempts from the floor.
But it was good enough to edge out the 76ers, who have already faced accusations from disgruntled fans that they have thrown in the towel with the new season barely three weeks old.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said despite the 76ers’ modest roster, they had been awkward opponents.
“This is a hard team to get good shots against,” Carlisle said.
“They have young, motivated guys on small contracts. They’re playing their [butts] off. It’s good to see from a competitive standpoint but it makes it hard to get shots.”
Nowitzki was also generous in victory. “They kept staying in the game, clawing and scratching and they’re obviously desperate to get their first win,” Nowitzki said.
“We had to dig deep and grind it out.” Nevertheless the stats don’t lie and Philadelphia is now in the grip of a desperate losing streak.
Including the tail-end of last season, the 76ers have now slumped to 21 straight defeats, just five shy of the all-time record for longest losing streak in NBA history — which the 76ers themselves share with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Sixers coach Brett Brown bemoaned his team’s high turnover total — 27 — which resulted in 28 Dallas points.
“You’re not going to win any basketball games with 27 turnovers,” Brown said. Sixers rookie center Jahlil Okafor, who contributed 19 points, insists the team was close to turning a corner.
“We’re on the right path,” Okafor said. “We see the bigger picture, and I really believe that it’s all going to add up, and we’re definitely right there.”
Heart breaker. pic.twitter.com/6JLtvUunrZ
— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) November 17, 2015
In other matches on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers’ disappointing start to the season continued with the team crashing 120-101 at Phoenix. The Suns guard Brandon Knight recorded the first triple-double of his career with 30 points as the Lakers faded in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers rested veteran Kobe Bryant and had kept pace with the Suns until the fourth quarter, when Phoenix broke clear with a 21-8 scoring run to settle the contest.
In Texas, the San Antonio Spurs recorded their fifth straight victory with a 93-80 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Forward Kawhi Leonard scored 19 points while veterans Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker both contributed key shots at pivotal moments of the match.
Ginobili finished with 17 points while Parker and Tim Duncan scored 10 points each.
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