SALT LAKE CITY — Everyone knew this season would be a struggle for the Philadelphia 76ers.
That was part of the plan when Sam Hinkie took over as the franchise’s general manager. Rookie head coach Brett Brown knew it. So did the players and fans.
It’s just finally sinking in.
The Sixers (15-38) have lost seven straight and 17 of the 20 contests heading into Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. And that’s not of the worst of it.
One night after losing by 45 points, they suffered a 123-80 setback to the Golden State Warriors on Monday at the Oracle Arena.
The Sixers joined the franchise’s 1993-94 squad as the NBA’s only teams to lose consecutive games by 40-plus points. That team suffered defeats of 48 and 45 points.
This time, the combined margin of loss was 88 points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the third-largest total margin of defeat in consecutive game by any team in NBA history.
As expected the mood in the visitors’ locker room late Monday night was gloomy. Back in Philadelphia, some fans took to Twitter and Facebook to express their embarrassment. And just like the night before in Los Angeles, the Sixers were being poked fun of the Oakland news telecasts.
“It’s hard for everybody,” Brown said, “because of the reality of it is that they have put in so much time. And despite all the turmoil, it’s a group that has stayed together.
“At times you look up and you have to keep on going and keep on playing with some level of dignity. It’s hard doing that.”
But we all knew this season would be a struggle. Maybe not back-to-back losses by an average of 44 points, but we expected a struggle nonetheless.
The franchise is in pursuit of top lottery picks by sacrificing wins now. The Sixers aren’t going out looking to lose. It’s just that you can’t expect much with a roster loaded with fringe NBA players.
For most of the Sixers, this season is nothing more than an open tryout to see who can fill a role on an NBA roster. It’s also a team that is the youngest in the history of the NBA.
As a result, one could argue that Sixers opted to bring a spoon to a gun fight.
That was obvious Monday night when Marreese Speights became the latest role player to post all-star numbers against the Sixers.
He came off the bench to score a career-best 32 points on 12-of-15 shooting. Speights also finished with eight rebounds against his former team.
The Warriors (31-21) made 12 of 29 three-pointers. Six came from point guard Stephen Curry, who finished with 23 points and a game-high eight assists.
Unfortunately for the Sixers, this is all part of the rebuilding process that we all knew about. And it’s probably going to get worse.
But Evan Turner has the remedy for dealing with these last two embarrassing losses.
“I just think sticking together, obviously,” the swingman said, “and obviously not looking at television or reading the paper. We have to keep chucking away and trying.”