It’s quite rare to see a home sellout crowd give its team a standing ovation after a loss.
The 76ers deserved the applause.
After a stirring 13-point comeback in the final two-and-a-half minutes against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the Sixers fell just short when Harrison Barnes drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 0.2 seconds remaining for a three-point victory last Saturday.
The Sixers could have wilted. They didn’t.
This could be called a moral victory, but the team refuses to look at the loss in that way.
The defeat dropped the Sixers to 7-41.
“We don’t feel that way and I don’t want our guys to feel that way,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “It’s sort of the beauty of the job that we have. You win and you lose. I kind of like that.”
The Sixers are playing much better and that was evident in the loss to the ultra-talented Warriors.
Moral victory? Forget about it.
“For us to be down 24 and find a way at home to not roll over, not to be all caught up in the moment and find a way for to give something back to our fans, who were fantastic, is a great thing for our young team,” Brown said. “It validates the work they have put in. It showed we have no letdown, no backdown and I give us a lot of credit. We’re obviously disappointed to not come away with a win.”
Another rebuilding season in Philadelphia has to be frustrating for the fans, coaches and players. The loss to the Warriors shows that the Sixers are moving in the right direction with a key offseason on the horizon.
“I think we learned a lot from this game,” said sharp-shooter Robert Covington. “They’re the No. 1 team in the league. They’re by far one of the greatest teams in history. For us to come out and play the way we did, it shows none of that really matters. We have to just go out and play who’s on our schedule. We have to come out focused whether we’re playing the Warriors or a team that’s struggling. It doesn’t matter. I was proud of how we played and rallied to the end. The loss stings the same, though, and the coaches want us to feel it. All of this will help in the future.”
Point guard Ish Smith tied the game briefly until Barnes’ dagger in front of the Sixers bench.
Being part of a group which sticks together is something special. Sure, the loss hurts – all of them do – but they scratched and clawed with the defending champions to the buzzer.
“I agree that there are no moral victories,” Smith said. “When you make a comeback like that, you want to take it all the way. We fell just a little bit short. I’m proud of all of us who stuck through it. We need to find a way to go to that next level to take the win.”