CLEVELAND - The 76ers stumbled to their 10th straight defeat Sunday.
The latest setback came courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who prevailed, 108-86, at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Sixers (1-28) now have their second double-digit losing streak of the season after equaling the NBA record with 18 consecutive losses to start the campaign.
"We've been here before," coach Brett Brown said. "This feels a little bit different because it's not like you have a set rotation or a set team. It's just people coming in and out and in and out, so it doesn't feel as tight right now as you wished it was."
Part of the Sixers' problem is the point guard rotation. At this time, T.J. McConnell gives them the best chance to pull off an upset. However, he's third of the depth chart behind Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten.
The two former first-round picks are seen as having better upside than McConnell, an undrafted rookie out of Arizona. However, both are adjusting to game action after coming off knee surgery that sidelined them at the start of the season.
Marshall scored eight points on 3-for-7 shooting to go with two rebounds, four assists, and three turnovers in his fourth game back. Wroten made 2 of 8 shots to finish with six points and had three rebounds, three assists, and three turnovers in his sixth game back. McConnell had 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds, three assists, and three turnovers.
But McConnell graded out at plus-3, while Marshall was minus-18 and Wroten minus-7.
Brown was asked whether he's considering giving McConnell more minutes until Marshall and Wroten get up to speed.
"Isn't it a Catch-22?" he said. "It's a Catch-22, and in a minute [after Christmas] we are going to have [power forward] Carl Landry [who's been sidelined this season to rehabilitate his right wrist] coming in."
Sunday's matchup marked the return of Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving. He scored 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting in his first game back after fracturing his left kneecap in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in June. LeBron James finished with a game-high 23 points to go with five rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block, and two turnovers. The four-time league MVP and several other Cleveland standouts sat out the fourth quarter.
Reserve point guard Matthew Dellavedova added 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting - 4 of 6 on three-pointers in three quarters of action.
Nerlens Noel led the Sixers with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. JaKarr Sampson and T.J. McConnell added 10 apiece off the bench. Jahlil Okafor finished with nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Poor shooting, miscues, and subpar defense combined to doom the Sixers. They shot 34.9 percent from the field - including just 5 of 25 on three-pointers. They had out-of-bounds passes, shot-clock violations, and a backcourt violation among their 21 costly miscues.
Meanwhile, the Cavs (18-7) basically had their way against the Sixers defense. Cleveland made 40 of 85 shots and 11 of 25 three-pointers.
This game turned into a lopsided affair late in the second quarter and remained that way. The Cavs went on to lead by as many as 35 points (100-65) with 7 minutes, 35 seconds left.
But the contest was basically over way before that.
The Sixers looked dejected in the third quarter, while the Cavs looked as if they were at practice.
The Cavs even joked around near the home bench in between the third and fourth quarters. Focused on the music, James took time to do some subtle dancing. J.R. Smith's dance moves weren't so subtle at the next break in action. And several Cavs regulars, who were out of the game, had a great time while standing in a group on the bench during the next timeout.
"We've got to come through with a chip on our shoulder," said Noel, who said he didn't see the Cavs partying on their bench. "If we see that, we've got to step it up another level no matter what the score is to show what we are capable of and not allow that."