PHILADELPHIA — Allen Iverson raised his No. 3 to the rafters and had Sixers’ fans raising the roof.
For one night in Philadelphia, the spirit of a big game was back, from the four-figure ticket prices on the secondary market to the packed house that roared for legends Julius Erving and Moses Malone, and chanted “MVP!” when Iverson thanked the fans.
The crowd was electric — then the Sixers pulled the plug.
By the fourth quarter, most of the 20,856 fans fled the Wells Fargo Center, the memories of Iverson’s homecoming trumping the idea of sticking around to watch the home team limp toward another loss. The few that remained only cheered when the Sixers scored 100 points, netting them some free fast food.
Coach Brett Brown loved Saturday’s atmosphere that was pulled straight from 2001.
“You think, ‘What can happen if we ever get this right?”’ he said.
The Sixers (15-45) have been every bit as bad as their preseason billing, and have lost 14 straight games following back-to-back defeats last weekend to Washington and Orlando. They’ve lost 12 straight at home and are freefalling their way toward catching Milwaukee (11-47) for the worst record in the NBA. They had allowed 100-plus points in 13 straight games before Sunday, their longest single-season streak since 1989.
Iverson, one of the 76ers’ all-time greats, has tuned out the Sixers as if they were a coach talking about practice.
“It’s hard for me to watch Sixers basketball games,” Iverson said, “so I don’t.”
Toss out rookie Michael-Carter Williams, injured rookie Nerlens Noel, and veteran Thaddeus Young and the Sixers are left with a roster more fitting for the D-League. Henry Sims? Jarvis Varnado? Byron Mullens?
Brown was blunt after the Sixers’ 13th straight loss when asked if he wondered if the Sixers would win another game.