MINNEAPOLIS:- The Philadelphia 76ers avoided matching an ignominious NBA record on Wednesday, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 85-77 for their first win of the season after an 0-17 start.
With the long-awaited victory, the Sixers avoided equalling the worst start to a season in league history, the 0-18 season-opening run of the 2009-10 Nets.
“It’s a big relief,” said Philadelphia point guard Michael Carter-Williams, last season’s rookie of the year who had game highs of 20 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
Robert Covington added 17 points off the bench and Cameroonian forward Luc Mbah a Moute — traded by Minnesota to Philadelphia in August — had 12 points and nine rebounds.
“The team’s excited and we just want to build on this,” Carter-Williams said.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, who had already seen his 76ers struggle through a 19-win campaign last season — in which they matched the all-time record for consecutive defeats with 26 — insisted before the contest that his young team was on the verge of breaking through.
“The win is coming. We’re getting better,” Brown said.
The words proved prophetic, but it wasn’t pretty.
Philadelphia shot just 39 percent against the injury-depleted and defensively challenged Timberwolves, who were led by former Sixer Thaddeus Young with 16 points.
They turned the ball over 19 times — mistakes that Carter-Williams said the team will have to eliminate if they want to build on the triumph.
“We can’t have any setbacks,” said Carter-Williams, although the Sixers will face a tough test in their next game, when they host Oklahoma City on Friday.
At least they’ll go up against the Thunder freed from the scrutiny their march toward infamy had brought.
Brown acknowledged that matching or breaking the record was bound to be seen as news, and the growing interest had created “an undercurrent where I’m aware of it now.”
For one night, at least, Brown and his players could talk about something besides losing.
“That’s why we play the game,” Brown said. “We want to win.”