Published January 08, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - For the first time all season, and just the fifth time since February, the Philadelphia 76ers won an NBA game.
They'll try to make it two in a row Friday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder voyage into the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.
The Sixers avoided tying the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets ignominious record 18 consecutive losses to start a season Wednesday night with an 85-77 road victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"We feel like this validates the work that they've put in and I have a tremendous amount of respect that they never once quit on themselves, short- circuited a practice and they were rewarded tonight," said 76ers coach Brett Brown after the win.
Sixers forward Robert Covington was an unlikely hero, scoring nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. Michael Carter-Williams ended with 20 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals.
Rookie K.J. McDaniels and Luc Mbah a Moute both finished with 12 points and Henry Sims chipped in 10.
The 77 points allowed was a season-low for the Sixers by 11 points. They only shot 39 percent from the floor and 20.8 percent from long range, but the Timberwolves were worse on both fronts. Both teams committed 19 turnovers.
The Sixers closed the game on a 12-2 run to get that elusive first victory.
Philly will try for a honest-to-goodness winning streak Friday night, but things will be tough. The Thunder are low in the Western Conference standings, but just got both reigning MVP Kevin Durant and perennial All-Star Russell Westbrook back in the lineup.
The two played together for the first time on Tuesday night in a road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. For Durant, it was his first game back and the Thunder fell, 112-104.
Durant was aggressive in his first game of the season following right foot surgery in October and showed flashes of being in midseason form. He finished with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting and played nearly 30 minutes.
The Thunder went 5-12 with Durant sidelined, and while hopes are high with their projected starting lineup back on the court, they still sit near the bottom of the competitive Western Conference.
"We have to be more focused," Durant said. "It starts with the leaders. It starts with me. ... We all have to do a better job."
Westbrook, who returned to the lineup last Friday after missing 14 games and led Oklahoma City to a second straight win, scored 21 points on 6-of-20 shooting.
The Thunder have won 10 straight against the 76ers, including five in a row in the City of Brotherly Love.