BOSTON - Evan Turner feels for the 76ers.
The Boston Celtics reserve guard/forward has been paying close attention to their rebuilding process. He also knows firsthand the frustration that the players and coaches are going through as the losses mount.
The Sixers made him the second overall pick in 2010, and he saw some lean times before he was traded to the Indiana Pacers in February 2014. That was in the middle of the first of three straight tanking seasons.
Turner has settled with the Celtics, but the Sixers are still setting futility records.
Their latest came Wednesday night after Turner's Celtics defeated the 76ers, 84-80, at TD Garden. The setback marked the Sixers' 26th consecutive loss dating to March 27, tying the most in sports history.
They equaled the futility run established by the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1976 and 1977 seasons. The 2013-14 Sixers and 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers tied that record and hold the NBA mark.
Those two squads posted their losing streaks over a single season. The current Sixers have opened this season with 16 straight setbacks. They lost the final 10 games of last season. The Sixers will have sole possession of the losing-streak record with a loss Friday at Houston.
Their 0-16 start is one loss away from the franchise mark they set in 2014-15 for consecutive defeats to start a season. The league record is 18, held by the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets. The Sixers could tie that mark if they lose to Houston and then at Memphis on Sunday.
"I know Brett [Brown] is a great coach, and those players over there grind hard," said Turner, who worked out with the Sixers in the offseason. "It's not like they are sitting around doing nothing. Those kids grind, man. I know for sure they stay over the summer and work out together.
"So you feel bad in that sense, [because] it is a team working to be successful. It's not like they are a bunch of high-paid players that have a crazy attitude about it."
Turner pointed out that the Sixers are trying to develop talent while the losses mount.
"I think they are going to get a lot of great experience from it, of course," he said of the process. "It's great for [Jahlil] Okafor, for Nerlens [Noel]. I think [T.J.] McConnell is finding his way. [Robert] Covington made a name for himself out of this situation.
"It's great for a lot of players. It's just tough in general."
Against the Celtics, the Sixers missed seven of their final eight shots after holding an 11-point lead with 6 minutes, 16 seconds remaining. They turned the ball over on six of seven late fourth-quarter possessions. They finished with 19 turnovers.
But they still had a chance to win after the Celtics took an 82-80 lead on Jae Crowder's three-pointer with 38.5 seconds left.
The Sixers drew up a play for Okafor (19 points) to get the ball during a timeout with 11 seconds remaining. However, reserve point guard Phil Pressey, a former Celtic, broke the play off when he saw that Okafor was pushed out of his spot.
"Unfortunately, I couldn't make the shot," said Pressey, who settled for a step-back jumper with 2.8 seconds left. He missed.
Boston's Isaiah Thomas (30 points) hit a pair of foul shots with 1.4 seconds remaining to give the Celtics a four-point cushion.