The 76ers never really had a serious opportunity to win against Brett Brown's former team.
The tanking Sixers are not even close to being on the same level as the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs proved that by posting a 109-103 victory Monday at the Wells Fargo Center on a night when Tim Duncan and Tony Parker took the game off.
But there was one lingering question afterward: Will the Sixers tie the NBA record for consecutive losses to start the season on Wednesday in Minneapolis?
This setback dropped the Sixers to 0-17. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets set the record of 18 straight defeats.
"All we have is each other on the road," rookie K.J. McDaniels said of facing the Timberwolves. "So we will have to go in there and play our hearts out and go against the crowd and try to get a W."
On this night, they were without Nerlens Noel (right hip flexor) and Tony Wroten (sprained right knee). Wroten missed his second game after he was hurt Wednesday in a home loss against the Brooklyn Nets. He is expected to be out at least a week.
Noel was a late scratch. The rookie power forward was hurt Sunday when he was elbowed in the hip by Hollis Thompson during practice. He is listed as day-to-day.
While Noel & Co. appear destined for an NBA futility record, the Spurs (13-4) look like a team destined to win a second straight league title and sixth overall.
Even without all-star point guard Parker (bruised ribs) and future Hall of Fame power forward Duncan (rest), San Antonio won its eighth straight.
It could be argued that the outcome wouldn't have been any different if Manu Ginobili also took the night off. The standout reserve guard sat out the fourth quarter after playing only 12 minutes, 42 seconds. He scored 14 points.
Brown said the Spurs are "deeper than the word deep insinuates. I think when we think of depth, you think of talent. And there definitely is that. But there's multiple layers beneath the talent where they coexist.
"They get along. They pass the ball better than any NBA team I think that I have ever seen. And there's a prideful attention to defense."
Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Also scoring in double figures were Aron Baynes (15 points), Cory Joseph (14), Matt Bonner (12), Marco Belinelli (11) and Ginobili.
Michael Carter-Williams led the Sixers with 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Alexey Shved added 19 points.
Monday marked the fourth time that Brown faced his former team - all losses.
Former Spur Sean Elliott, now a TV analyst for the team, embraced Brown after the coach's pregame news conference. Brown also walked for an hour and a half with Spurs coach and close friend Gregg Popovich earlier Monday.
"He's a mensch," Popovich said of his former assistant. "To go through what he's doing on a day-to-day basis is obviously beyond difficult. I wouldn't wish it on anybody. But if somebody has got to do it, he's the perfect guy, because he's one of the most upbeat, positive individuals I've been around and it's not a hokey, hackneyed sort of thing. He's a positive guy.
"He has great fiber and he's going to wake up every morning, go into work teaching and doing what needs to be done because he knows what needs to be done to build a program."
As always, Brown wanted the Sixers to pay attention to everything San Antonio did during the game.
The Spurs displayed great ball movement. They basically put the game away with a 18-3 run to make it 45-25 with 7 minutes, 18 seconds left in the second quarter. San Antonio went on lead by as many as 24 points late in the half.
The Sixers pulled within 108-103 with 1.6 seconds remaining. But the game was never in doubt.
The margin of defeat could had been larger had Parker and Duncan played and Ginobili spent more time in the game. On Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks rested Dirk Nowitzki and Jameer Nelson against the Sixers. And the Chicago Bulls did the same with Derrick Rose on Nov. 7.
"I don't react to it at all," Brown said of teams resting their best players against his squad. "We go out and whoever is on the court, we are going to try to find a win."