With Joel Embiid leading the way, the 76ers left the land of the winless and avoided an embarrassing milestone Friday night by defeating the Indiana Pacers, 109-105, in overtime.
The Sixers snapped their winless streak to the start of the season at seven games. They also sidestepped being the only team in NBA history to start 0-8 in three consecutive seasons. The Sixers opened last season with 18 straight losses. They began the 2004-05 campaign with 17 consecutive defeats.
The victory at the Wells Fargo Center also ended an 11-game skid dating back to last season. And it marked their first victory in the months of October and November since they beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 22, 2013. They had lost 44 straight games during those months before Friday night.
"That first win for the group is massive," coach Brett Brown said. "I know it's only one. But you can take a deep breath and go fight again."
The organization savored this victory. A group led by the team managing owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer accompanied Brown to his post-game press conference. At the conclusion of the conference, claps were heard coming from their party.
The win also avenged Wednesday's overtime setback to the Pacers (4-5), who remain winless on the road.
Embiid found his groove at the right time. The 7-foot-2, 276-pound center scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime session.
"I've been following great players, and the fourth quarter is the time," he said. "That's when you see more [isolation plays] and guys trying to get a bucket. . . . It's paying off and I still got a long way to go."
The 22-year-old, however, didn't think he would play in the overtime session. That's because he was scheduled to play only 24 minutes, and played 23:48 at the end of regulation,
"I was kind of yelling at them to let me play, and crying a little bit," he jokingly said. "But they let me play and we got the win. So that's good."
His biggest points came on a three-point play with 55.1 seconds left in the overtime to give his team a 107-105 advantage. Then he made a pair of foul shots to give the Sixers a 109-105 advantage with 8.6 seconds to play.
The Pacers missed two shots in the final 6.9 seconds.
This game featured a head-to-head battle between two of the league's top centers in Embiid and Indiana's second-year standout Myles Turner
In addition to his team-high point total, Embiid had seven rebounds and one block in 25 minutes, 45 seconds. He made 12 of 14 foul shots. Embiid played only the first 2:13 of the first quarter after picking two quick fouls. He didn't really find his groove until the fourth quarter.
But that was perfect for the Sixers, as he scored 11 points in the quarter.
"I want to be the best player," Embiid said. "Every time I step on the court, I think I'm the best player. And if the team needs me, I still got a long way to go, but I can do those things."
Meanwhile, Turner never got in rhythm due to his own foul trouble. He finished with five points, five rebounds and one block before fouling out with 1:44 left in the overtime.
Turner played only 4:58 in the first half in part because of foul trouble.
While he'll look to regroup Saturday in Boston, Embiid is expected to play his next game on Monday against the Houston Rockets.
He will accompany the team on the two-game road trip to Atlanta and Houston. Embiid is scheduled to sit out Saturday's game against the Hawks at the Philips Arena. The team is off on Sunday before facing the Rockets at the Toyota Center on Monday.
Jahlil Okafor played just 2:49 on Friday - all in the first quarter - due to Embiid's foul trouble. He wasn't expected to see any action, because the Sixers were resting him for Saturday's matchup.
Paul George finished with a game-high 26 points.
Veteran Day ref: Referee Matt Boland, who worked the game, is one of three active NBA officials with military experience. He served in the Connecticut National Guard from 1987 to 1995. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1990 and promoted to first lieutenant in 1992.