The 76ers are ending their campaign the way they started it, heading into yet another offseason without many wins but quite a few lottery balls - and now one injury to a major player.
Nerlens Noel suffered a right-ankle sprain Wednesday in the fourth quarter of a 119-90 loss to the Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center.
Trying to block a shot, Noel landed on the foot of Wizards guard Will Bynum.
"I am concerned," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "If you saw the tape and saw him come down on Bynum's foot, that is a real turned ankle, that is a real sprain."
"You see him back there [in the training room] in a boot, and we jumped on the treatment," Brown said of Noel. "My guess is that he is unlikely to play in Chicago."
The Sixers' next game is Saturday against the Bulls.
Noel, who had five points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes, was not available for comment.
A Sixers team that started the season with 17 consecutive defeats now has its second-longest losing streak. They have lost seven in a row.
At 18-61, the Sixers have the third-worst NBA record. They get three more cracks at trying to match last year's 19-win total, not exactly the highest of bars but one to shoot for, nevertheless.
Whether Noel plays in any of the games remains to be seen. He missed all of last year while recovering from knee surgery, and there was a question this season about his durability.
Yet, Wednesday was his 75th game of the season, and his play improved as the season progressed.
Sixers guard Robert Covington scored a career-high 27 points. Jason Richardson added 17.
"It doesn't matter much [about the career high] because we lost the game," Covington said.
Back to the grim Sixers details: Washington shot 65.3 percent from the field, a franchise record.
It was the highest field-goal percentage by a Sixers opponent since the Los Angeles Lakers shot 66.2 percent on Jan. 4, 2008.
As they have frequently this season, the Sixers saw the opponent rest at least one of its star players. In this instance, it was all-star point guard John Wall, who was given a breather by coach Randy Wittman, along with center Nene.
What a break it was, not having to deal with Wall this time. The Sixers gave up only 70 points - in the first half, when they trailed by 16.
Washington (45-33) was able to mix and match quite well. Even without Wall and Nene, the Sixers had trouble with guard Bradley Beal and center Marcin Gortat.
Beal scored 21 points. Gortat shot 8 for 9 while scoring 18 points. In four games against the Sixers this season, Gortat shot 31 of 39 (79.5 percent). Guard Ramon Sessions, who replaced Wall, had 19 points.
Washington is headed to the postseason for the second straight year and is an example of how difficult it is to get off the canvas in the NBA. Before last season, the Wizards had five straight losing seasons, winning 29 or fewer games in all of them.
That should give the Sixers some comfort, even though the Wizards have one more major leap to make to contender status.
The Sixers can't think that far ahead. They just want to sprint into the offseason, hope that center Joel Embiid is healthy next season, look to strike gold in the lottery, and inch their way up the NBA ladder.
It's a thankless journey, one that must be traveled, regardless of how long it takes.