(The Sports Xchange) - Someone is going to be the unfortunate first team to lose to the winless Philadelphia 76ers. It could be the Houston Rockets in the next game. Or the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.
But the Boston Celtics wanted to make sure it was not them, sending the Sixers into the history books with a stunning late comeback and an 84-80 victory on Wednesday.
“You guys know how much of a disappointment it would have been,” Jae Crowder said after his second three-pointer of the comeback gave the Celtics the lead with 38.5 seconds left.
“Very, very, very disappointing to all of us, coaches and players.”
The Celtics, down by 11 midway through the fourth quarter with their home fans booing, used an 18-3 charge in the final 6:02 for the win.
Philadelphia (0-16) dropped their 26th straight game, dating back to last season, to match the record for consecutive losses by a North American pro sports team.
The Sixers also have a shot at the all-time record of 18 consecutive losses at the start of an NBA season, set by the 2009 New Jersey Nets.
Crowder, one of nine from the floor before hitting the big baskets, missed two free throws with 4:32 left but came right back with the first three-pointer.
“I think it’s fair to say he’s got shooter’s amnesia and he’s not afraid to take the next one,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
The Sixers turned the ball over after falling behind for the first time since 26-24, but Boston guard Avery Bradley turned it right back and Philly called time with 11 seconds left.
Phil Pressey then missed a jumper, Boston guard Isaiah Thomas grabbed the rebound and salted it away with two free throws with 1.4 seconds left.
The Sixers lost 26 in a row in 2013-14, starting 0-17, one shy of the record set by the 2009 Nets. The 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers also dropped 26 straight, as did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL in 1976-77.
The only Philadelphia points in the final 6:18 came on an old-fashioned three-point play by rookie center Jahlil Okafor that gave the Sixers an 80-75 lead with 2:51 left.
The Celtics (8-7) then scored the last nine points of the game -- and Philly finished with 19 turnovers.
“There’s no excuse for that,” Pressey said.
Thomas led all scorers with 30 points and added six assists and four rebounds. Evan Turner scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and had nine rebounds.
Celtics forward Jared Sullinger matched his season high with 15 rebounds to go with nine points. Bradley, who had 10 points, was just four of 15 from the floor but made key defensive plays down the stretch.
The Celtics, blown out in Atlanta on Tuesday, had been in deep talks to try to shake the mini-losing streak, with Crowder saying, “Togetherness. We’ve splintered in past times when the going gets tough, and the going was definitely tough there.”
Okafor led the Sixers with 19 points and nine rebounds and guard Isaiah Canaan had 12 points and five rebounds. Forward Robert Covington grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in the loss.
“We had four in our final six possessions, I believe,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “We know where our bread is buttered. We know Jahlil needs the ball, but so does the rest of the league. So when they front and wrestle with it and we play tentative, it can be a negative.”
Compiled by Peter Rutherford