The 76ers hadn’t had a winning record since Nov. 13, 2013, because they didn’t want one.
Since that night, they wanted folks to trust the process through Tank 1, Tank 2, Tank 3 and ultimately, Tank 4.
But now the Sixers are determined to be recognized as winners. That’s why Friday night’s 121-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers at the Wells Fargo Center was special to them.
Not only was it a night in which rookie point guard Ben Simmons posted his second career triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists, but at 5-4, the Sixers are winners for the first time since nine games into the 2013-14 season, when they were also 5-4.
JJ Redick’s game-high eight three-pointers and 31 points also helped the Sixers earn their first four-game winning streak since Dec. 29, 2013 through Jan. 4, 2014 when they beat the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, and Portland Trail Blazers on the road.
In all, they have won five of six games after opening the season with consecutive losses to the Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors.
“It’s us teaching ourselves and it’s also the coaches helping us as well,” Robert Covington said of the turnaround. “So that’s one thing about us. And then it’s about the talent in the locker room.”
There’s no denying that the Sixers are a more talented squad. And Redick is one of their talented additions.
On this night, he proved to be worth the one-year, $23 million deal he signed this summer. The shooting guard turned the game into his own personal three-point clinic, especially down the stretch.
He broke open a game that was tied, 110-110, with 2 minutes and 6 seconds left, scoring nine straight points on three three-pointers on a game-sealing 11-0 run.
Redick drained a three to give the Sixers a 113-110 lead with 2:06. Then, as the shot clock was expiring, put his team up six with 1:08 to play. And the free-agent acquisition drilled another with 46.7 seconds remaining to make it a 119-110 game.
Redick made his eight three-pointers in 12 attempts while erasing memories of Wednesday’s poor-shooting game when he made 1 of 6 and finished with eight points.
“I was more concerned with having it be a good night for our team,” Redick said. “We all recognize the significance of tonight and the chance to get over .500 for the first time in a long time. My focus was more on winning.”
Meanwhile, Simmons, once again, showed why he’s the overwhelming favorite to win rookie of the year. And people are taking notice.
He joined Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to record at least two triple-doubles in their first nine career games. Robertson recorded four for the Cincinnati Royals during the 1960-61 season.
“That’s amazing to me,” Simmons said of the accomplishment. “There’s only two players to have done that? That’s surreal to me.”
Lost for words, he repeated that the feat was amazing and that it was an honor to be up there.
In a recent interview, former NBA great Kobe Bryant called Simmons “phenomenal.”
“From Kobe, that’s awesome to hear from one of the greatest that’s ever played,” Simmons said. “I have a long way to go. That means a lot. I have a long way to go. So I’m staying in the gym.”
However, players and media types have been raving ever since the season started. He’s being compared to LeBron James and Hall of Famers Robertson and Magic Johnson.
Before the game, the Australian revealed that he hopes to represent his country in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Joel Embiid finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. But he was hampered by foul trouble and missed three dunks.
Reserve center Richaun Holmes scored six points in his regular-season debut. He had been sidelined since fracturing his left wrist on Oct. 6 against the Boston Celtics.
The game was a homecoming to Pacers power forward Thad Young, who finished with 15 points. Victor Oladipo tied Redick for game-high honors with 31 points.
Friday night also marked the return of Myles Turner. The Pacers’ post player had missed the previous seven games with a concussion.
Pacers reserve T.J Leaf suffered a game-ending sprained right ankle with 10:04 left in the second quarter.
The Sixers assigned Furkan Kormaz to the Delaware 87ers, their G-League team, following the game. There’s a chance he could rejoin the team at some point during its upcoming five-game road trip.
Friday night was Military Appreciation Night inside the arena.
The first 5,000 fans in attendance received 76ers Stars and Stripes rally towels. The organization honored active and retired servicemen, including Marine Sergeant Jason Simms.
Simms is a Purple Heart recipient and the 2013 American Hero of the Year Award winner. He performed the ringing of the team’s liberty bell before the game. Also before the game, 30 servicemen at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst held a 1,700-square-foot American flag during the national anthem. Then, at halftime, active servicemen presented jerseys to six veterans of each of the last six major U.S. conflicts.