PHILADELPHIA — Tony Wroten gave the 76ers something Saturday night that they hadn't experienced since January: hope.
By the time the second-year guard dumped in a fast-break slam, the Sixers had wiped out a once-double-digit deficit against Utah. And with 2:43 to go, Wroten and the Sixers had a chance — really — at their first victory in their last 16 games.
Then, hope vanished. And so did the Sixers' prospects for a win.
The Sixers missed their final seven shots, falling to the Jazz, 104-92, and extending their season-long losing streak to 16 games. After Wroten's dunk, Utah outscored the Sixers, 13-1, to close the game.
“We missed some shots and they converted down the stretch,” said the Sixers' Michael Carter-Williams. “If we're going to win games that are close, we have to convert. I think that's the best way to put it.”
Wroten's game-best 30 points were a career-high for him, as well. He shot 12-for-15 from the floor, trying to keep the Sixers in the game against their fellow draft lottery ticket-holders. Utah (22-41) got 22 points from Gordon Hayward, including eight in the final minute of the game, and Derrick Favors paired 15 points with 13 rebounds.
For dubious reasons, these Sixers have etched their names into the club's record book. Without a win at home since Jan. 15, they've gone 0-13 in the last eight weeks. That sets the franchise's single-season record for consecutive home losses.
“It's been my biggest fear, is the word I'll use, is that you lose the group because of the situation,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown. “And then they look at you differently, and you look at them a bit differently. ... It does scare me, but it's not something I think is going to creep in.”
The odds on paper appeared to be in the Sixers' favor. Not even against the worn-down, travel-weary Jazz, though, could they steal a victory.
The Jazz came into this one on a five-game losing streak on a road trip that ended Saturday. Adding to the Jazz's woes, they were coming off a 17-point beatdown a night earlier at New York. And in the backend of back-to-back games, Utah had won only five times in 17 instances.
So, yeah, this one was on a silver platter for the Sixers (15-47).
“When you lose that many in a row, you want it to end bad,” Wroten said. “We definitely felt like that was the game.”
Thaddeus Young hit back-to-back buckets with five minutes left in the fourth quarter to close the Sixers' deficit to two points, at 88-86. Two possessions later, a backcourt steal turned into a two-handed flush from Wroten. And just like that, the Sixers' 11-point deficit had been reduced to zero. Alec Burks hit a corner three and the Jazz were in control.
In the final minute, the Sixers still had life. Then they missed seven straight shots.
Suddenly, the game was out of reach. Much like the 15 that directly preceded it.
“It sounds perhaps a bit trivial or maybe even a bit corny. I think they deserve it,” Brown said of ending their skid. “... I'd like them to be rewarded for their efforts.”