SAN ANTONIO — Brett Brown awoke Saturday morning feeling nostalgic.
The Sixers were staying at a downtown hotel in San Antonio that overlooked the River Walk and it only rekindled memories of the Spurs' 2007 championship for Brown.
Brown, who was an assistant with the Spurs for seven seasons, was a part of the team's championship parade that floated down the San Antonio River in 2007.
"You're reminded of what you want," Brown said. "You get a little bit jealous. You want what they have. What they have has taken time. The culture that they have built is amazing."
How far the Sixers are from enjoying a similar moment never seemed so far away as it did Saturday. They were unable to close a late rally, falling, 92-83, to the veteran Spurs for their 10th straight loss to open the season (see Instant Replay).
The losing streak is at 20 games overall dating back to last season. Next, the Sixers come home and play the Mavericks on Monday before welcoming the Pacers on Wednesday.
The Sixers are battling injuries to a young and inexperienced roster, which has been a common theme in Brown's three years in Philadelphia.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who is regarded by many as the greatest in league history, said he could not do what Brown is doing with the Sixers.
"He's the most positive individual I know," Popovich said. "I honestly don't know who else could be in Philadelphia doing what he's doing. I couldn't. I'd last about a month. Two years ago, I mean [I would last] a month. Not a month into the third year."
San Antonio has won five NBA championships under Popovich with stars like David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard leading the way. The Spurs added LaMarcus Aldridge to that core in the offseason as a free agent.
It would be easy to say San Antonio has won multiple titles strictly based on talent, but to a man they say it's based on a daily process of doing the right thing. It's a process that the Sixers are building now. It may not be evident in the standings, but Popovich sees it.
"[Brown is] all about not skipping steps and setting standards," Popovich said. "He knows the way to do things, he communicates great and it all shows in the way those guys play. Those are not the most talented players in the world and five or six of his best players aren't there. I'm watching them play [Oklahoma City] last night and other games and those guys play from the first minute to the 48th minute."
The Sixers demonstrated that Saturday, closing within 87-83 with three minutes remaining after trailing by as many as 19 points (see highlights).
The Sixers were unable to close the rally, committing three straight turnovers following that 14-2 run.
"We have to make a few more plays," Sixers rookie center Jahlil Okafor said. "We turned the ball over. We know what we did wrong, we're going to watch film and try to correct those things when we come into tight situations."
Okafor had 21 points and 12 rebounds against a San Antonio frontline that included Duncan, Aldridge and veteran David West.
"There is a process," Okafor said. "We're trusting the plan and we've got to be patient. Just keep working hard and know that in the long run that all these hard-working days will pay off."
Okafor's continuing development and that of Nerlens Noel and Robert Covington have Brown encouraged.
"I have not one regret taking the Philadelphia job," Brown said. "I see daylight all the time. It's hard lately, I can see that. In Year 3, it's most definitely hard, but I see four first-round draft picks. I see [Dario] Saric, I see [Joel] Embiid, I see Nerlens and Jahlil, I see Covington. I see what can be."
And he doesn't have to look out the window of his hotel room to do so.