Philadelphia — It’s hard to get used to losing, especially for Nik Stauskas.
In two seasons at Michigan, he went 59-17, so he had his share, but in the first quarter of his second year in the NBA, with the 76ers, he’s had to endure a different level of coming out on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
The 76ers were 1-22 before Friday night’s matchup against the Pistons at Wells Fargo Center. Their 0-18 start accounted for more losses than Stauskas had in all of college, but he’s finding a ways to block out the streak.
“Honestly, the way we look at it, we come in every game and there’s no pressure on us,” Stauskas said. “Everyone’s always expecting us to lose. When we play any team, we’re always the underdog so we just have to come in with that mindset that we don’t have anything to lose.”
Stauskas was the Big Ten player of the year and left Michigan after his sophomore season. He was drafted No. 8 overall by the Kings and traded in the offseason to the 76ers.
Although the Kings struggled to a 29-53 mark last season, coming to the struggling Sixers has been more than a little adjustment for Stauskas.
Known for his flashy plays and post-basket celebrations, Stauskas has been forced to tone things down because of the circumstances.
“One of the toughest things for me is I played with so much swagger and fun,” he said. “The hardest thing is to bring that same energy and swagger when you’re losing. When you’re down 20, you can’t do all that stuff.
“That’s one of the toughest things for me, enjoying myself the same way, when you’re not winning. It’s more internal now; you keep it in your mind. In college, when you’re winning, you feel untouchable — it’s like the (Golden State) Warriors are now — that’s the feeling we had at Michigan.”
But Stauskas also has struggled to find the same individual success he had with the Wolverines.
An elite 3-point shooter in college, he hit only 32 percent on triples as a rookie and has dropped to 29 percent this year.
He’s started 13 of the 21 games he’s played this season but hasn’t found his footing yet with the young 76ers team, which has started a new three-game losing streak, but is playing much better, outside of a 41-point loss to the Spurs.
“We have to work hard in practice and have those things translate toward the game,” he said. “We’ve gotten better in a lot of different areas in the last couple weeks and you’ve seen we’ve played a lot of teams really close. We’re winning the fourth quarter and we’re up five or six points and happen to lose it in the last few minutes.
“The main thing is seeing that progress and realizing we’re right there — it just takes a few more things to get over that hump.”
While the Pistons have had their offensive woes this season, they’ve played much better on defense, rising from a bottom-10 ranking in the league to among the top 10 in the NBA this year.
Coach Stan Van Gundy has higher expectations, but he’s happy with the way things are going through the first quarter of the season, allowing 97.6 points per game.
“For the most part, we’ve gotten back in transition pretty well, we have not given up an inordinate amount of threes, we haven’t fouled a lot and we’ve rebounded the ball,” Van Gundy said.
“People have shot good percentages against us, we’ve given up too many points in the paint but we’re a top-10 defense basically because of those things.”
Pistons vs. Pacers
Tip-off: 7:30 tonight, The Palace, Auburn Hills
Outlook: The Pistons are 2-4 this season in the second matchup of back-to-back games. The Pacers’ Paul George (27.9 points, 8.2 rebounds) is playing as well as anybody in the NBA not named Steph Curry.