MINNEAPOLIS - The nationally televised matchup Thursday between the 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves was supposed to be a showcase of elite young big men Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns.
In reality, the TNT audience witnessed just how far ahead the youthful Timberwolves are from the Sixers.
Minnesota dominated things from the start en route to a 110-86 victory at the Target Center.
"This group that you are looking at played with each other all last year - many, many, many games together," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the Timberwolves core players, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine, and Towns.
"It's just part of the evolution, where we are at," he added. "They are two years ahead of us. It's on me and my staff to keep our guys up and help them."
Things were so lopsided that at one point, the Sixers had 24 points and trailed by 20. They trailed by 61-33 at the half. The 33 points were their lowest halftime output of the season.
Yes, it was one of those nights.
The Sixers (2-10) failed in their bid to win consecutive games for the first time since they beat the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks in March 2015. They posted a 109-102 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
They also kept another streak alive, extending their road losing streak to 21 games dating to last season. The Sixers set a franchise record of 23 straight over two seasons from March 29 to Dec. 23, 2015.
The matchup between Towns and Embiid never really materialized. Towns was paired up against Sixers power forwards for most of the game. Dieng and reserve Cole Aldrich defended Embiid and Sixers reserve center Jahlil Okafor mostly. Embiid faced Towns a handful of times.
Wiggins, the 2014-15 rookie of the year, finished with a game-high 35 points on 14-of-20 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and four assists.
Towns, last season's rookie of the year, added 25 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks for his sixth double-double of the season.
Wiggins scored on turnaround fadeaways, three-pointers, putbacks and dunks. Towns converted layups, driving hook shots, putbacks and even a three-pointer. His highlight came when he got Embiid to jump on a pump fake in the fourth quarter. Towns blew past him, drove the lane, and delivered a rim-rattling, one-handed dunk.
"You want to go up against the best," Towns said of facing Embiid and Okafor. "They are very talented basketball players.
"So when you get a chance to go up against the best, that's when it's fun. You get a chance to go out there and compete against high competition and have a lot of fun."
Dieng had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while LaVine added 11 points for the Timberwolves (4-7).
Dario Saric led the Sixers with 16 points in a reserve role. Embiid finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a block for his second straight double-double and his third of the season. The big man, however, became noticeably frustrated. He even had to be separated from Adreian Payne after the Timberwolves reserve knocked him to the floor on a play with 7 minutes, 51 seconds left. Payne was whistled for a technical foul.
"It was nothing," Embiid said of the scuffle. "He was just talking. I don't know who he was talking to."
The Sixers had a little scare in the first quarter, with Embiid falling then grabbing his ankle. Brown said the rookie twisted it and was fine. Brown, however, said that he was unsure if Embiid would be available to play Saturday against the Phoenix Suns at the Wells Fargo Center.
Okafor finished with seven points.
"They are young, and they are still going to get better," Embiid said. "That's where we've got to get to. When you learn how to play with each other, it's easier to play."