The Philadelphia 76ers, riding high after a Christmas Day upset of the Milwaukee Bucks, have endured a swift descent and center Joel Embiid admitted a four-game NBA losing streak is getting him down.
"Losing four in a row sucks, and it doesn't feel like we're getting better," a frustrated Embiid told reporters after the team lost to the Rockets in Houston on Friday night.
"I care about winning," the Cameroonian big man said. "It's taking a toll on me. All I care about is winning. It sucks."
Heading into Friday's contest, 76ers coach Brett Brown had cautioned his players that the team "can't get too irrational" with 46 games left in the regular season.
Three straight defeats had prompted guard Josh Richardson to say the locker room lacked accountability.
Embiid's comments to reporters on Thursday, in which he said Sixers players "have got to help each other even if it means being outside of your comfort zone," were widely interpreted as a dig at teammate Ben Simmons.
Australia's Simmons, famously reluctant to shoot from the perimeter, nevertheless again showed himself a major contributor against the Rockets, finishing with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists along with four blocked shots in his 25th career triple-double.
That was trumped by James Harden's triple-double of 44 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, along with an outstanding performance from Rockets center Clint Capela.
The 76ers will be hoping to turn things around when they return home to host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.
"We're frustrated, but we know we've got to get better," Simmons said. "I think everybody, I believe everybody, is on the same page with that.
"So we look forward to OKC. We've got to get that win."
Losing sucks: Philadelphia center Joel Embiid is frustrated with the 76ers' four-game NBA losing streak