Even without LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and local product Kyrie Irving, the depleted Cleveland Cavaliers built a 17-point lead in the second half.
The 76ers seemed destined for a 15thstraight home loss to open the season.
In this bizarre season which has featured 11 undrafted players on their roster, the youngest team in NBA history found a way to rally for a stunning 95-92 victory.
Philadelphia improved to 5-28 and avoided inching closer to a dubious mark set by the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks with 19 consecutive home losses to start a season.
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When the final buzzer sounded, the fans erupted as if the Sixers had won a playoff game.
In a way, they did.
It was the first home win for the Sixers since April 14 of last season.
“It means a lot,” said guard Michael Carter-Williams. “It’s our first home win. We’re really excited. We really put the pieces together at the end of the game. We came back in the fourth and we did all of the things we needed to do at the end of the game.”
The outcome likely would have been different if the Cavaliers were at full strength.
But the Sixers won’t apologize for anything.
“Kevin Love is a gold medalist, an Olympian and an All-Star and Mike Miller’s résumé would equal all of our guys’ experience, I think those things,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “We’re not apologizing for this win at all. I think it’s unfair. Have a look at my group. They don’t know what they don’t know.”
Guard Tony Wroten played a stellar second half, finished with 20 points and connected on the go-ahead driving layup with 9.1 seconds remaining.
He wanted the ball and delivered the first home win.
“It’s how I grew up,” Wroten said. “I don’t leave with nothing. I leave it all on the court. It would kill me to be at home and wondering about what I could have done. I just tried to do anything to help us win.”
That mentality is exactly what Brown is searching for.
“Tony has that ready, fire, aim mentality rather than being cautious,” Brown said. “There are times when you wish he was 27 and was making simple passes instead of rifling passes off people’s hands at warp speed, but he wears his heart on his sleeve. He has a motor and he so desperately wants to be on the court.”
Wins will most likely be scarce for the rest of the season. So finally getting that first home victory was huge.
For the first time, the home locker room was a jovial environment.
“To be able to have our guys do that in front of our home crowd and what we’re going through, we can’t be more grateful for their support and patience,” Brown said. “It needs to be rewarded and the win makes us feel like we gave something back.”