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76ers first win comes as big relief for youthful squad

Michael Carter-Williams is developing his leadership skills on the fly this season.Getty Images

This doesn’t solve all their problems.

For the 76ers, simply having the chance to celebrate one victory is monumental.

After starting the 2014-15 season with 17 consecutive losses, they traveled to Minneapolis and defeated the short-handed Timberwolves, 85-77, on Wednesday night. The Timberwolves played without Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, among others, and began the night with just four victories and two at home.

Even though the Sixers played without Tony Wroten and Alexey Shved, they did enough to pull away for that elusive first victory.

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Michael Carter-Williams elevated his level of play and finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Robert Covington, one of seven undrafted players on the young roster, scored 17 points, including a huge 3-pointer down the stretch.

The result was a much-needed win. Sure, the Sixers are still 1-17, but they didn’t tie the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets for the most losses – 18 -- to open a season.

Could the Sixers still challenge their own dubious mark of 9-73 in 1972-73? Absolutely.

For one night, they were able to revel in a victory. That’s saying something in this tumultuous season.

“There's a human side that you walk into that locker room, and you're just proud of them for staying together, and they're just overjoyed,” Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters. “We all feel like we've been pretty close the last handful of games, dozen games, we've been pretty close. It's been a five-point game, in fourth periods, in 11 of our 18 games.”

Carter-Williams was arguably the biggest reason for the one-night turnaround.

MCW registered a triple-double against the Dallas Mavericks and followed that with another solid all-around performance against the San Antonio Spurs.

Carter-Williams was far from perfect against the Timberwolves, but he took control in the fourth quarter.


“He was very strong in his desire to try and get us a win,” Brown said, referring to MCW. “He knew, apart from where we were at as a program, there's no other point guards. And so to navigate how to play minutes and still maintain and retain an energy and deliver like he did at the end was just a hell of a statement on his behalf.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder will visit the Sixers tonight and should have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the lineup.

Nothing will come easy for the Sixers, who feature the youngest roster in NBA history.

Wins will likely be scarce so they’ll enjoy each one as it comes.

“We feel like this validates the work they've put in,” Brown told reporters. “I just have a tremendous amount of respect for the fact that they never once quit on themselves, short-circuited a practice, and they were rewarded.”

 
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