NBA

The 76ers may suck, but Michael Carter-Williams doesn’t

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The 76ers hosted the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sort of.

The Spurs played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills. Manu Ginobili played only the first half.

And the Sixers still lost 109-103, dropping them to 0-17. They’re the fourth team in NBA history to open a season with 17 consecutive losses. If the Sixers lose tonight at Minnesota, they’ll tie the dubious record set by the New Jersey Nets in 2009-10.

The Timberwolves, who have just four wins, are banged up and will be without Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin.

The Sixers are also thin without injured guard Tony Wroten and possibly Nerlens Noel, who sat out the loss to the Spurs.

Looking for a silver lining?

Try reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.

After posting a triple-double against the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night, MCW came back and compiled 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. After offseason labrum surgery, he’s beginning to resemble the player he was last season.

“I think my teammates are doing a great job. They’re spacing out, they’re letting me have driving lanes, and they’re knocking down some shots,” Carter-Williams said. “I think I have to make more plays, with Tony being out. I’ve got to make plays, or attack the rim, or find the open man. We don’t have too many facilitators out there with him being out.”

In the meantime, the losses continue to pile up. The Sixers could definitely challenge their own record of nine victories set in 1972-73.

Coach Brett Brown refuses to get down. He can’t. He won’t.

Just ask Gregg Popovich, the five-time NBA champion coach for the Spurs. Brown was a longtime assistant under Popovich and they remain very close friends.

“He’s a mensch,” Popovich said of Brown. “To go through what he’s doing on a day-to-day basis is beyond difficult. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, but if somebody has got to do it, he’s the perfect guy because he is one of the most upbeat and positive individuals I have ever been around. It’s not a hokey, acting sort of thing. He’s a positive guy. He’s got great fiber and he’s going to wake up every morning going to work teaching and doing what needs to be done. He knows what needs to be done to build a program. It’s building a base in different ways and it has nothing to do with (wins and losses). He’ll be great at it. Losing is tough on anybody. You talk about the confidence of a team and how do you get through it.

“We’ve been fairly successful, but if we lose two in a row I’m thinking of how to build the confidence of the players back up. That’s the truth. Athletes are interesting beings at this level. You’ve got to constantly make sure that you’re polishing, like clean up, clean up, fix up. (Losing early in my career) was difficult. This is unimaginable.”

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