76ers Rise Above Rockets 108-97
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jrue Holiday had 24 points and 12 assists, and Thaddeus Young scored 22 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to 108-97 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
Andre Iguodala had 10 assists and the Sixers had 30 of them on 46 baskets. Spencer Hawes and Jodie Meeks each scored 12 points.
Kyle Lowry led the Rockets with 19 points and Kevin Martin had 18. Luis Scola scored 17 and Chase Budinger 15.
The Rockets cruised in a 112-87 win over New Jersey on Tuesday night, moving them within two games of eighth-place Memphis in the West, but their playoff push took a hit down I-95.
The Sixers put this one away with a 10-2 run early in the fourth.
The Rockets made 21 of 22 free throws; the 76ers 11 of 12.
Young gave the Sixers a serious scare after a hard fall in Monday’s 97-85 win at Chicago. Coach Doug Collins thought Young blew out his knee, but it was a strained groin, not severe enough to keep him out of the lineup – or affect his shooting. Young made 11 of 19 shots, all around the basket, and fell a rebound shy of a double-double.
Young scored the first two baskets during the decisive spurt early in the fourth. His short hook late in the game put the Sixers up 102-90 and secured their second straight victory against a team with a winning record.
The Sixers kept pace with Houston’s potent offense in the first half, then kept knocking shots down in the second as Houston faded in the fourth.
The Sixers have no All-Stars and their fourth-month rise in the Eastern Conference standings from a 3-13 start has been all about teamwork in the starting five and major contributions off the bench.
Both were on display against Houston.
In the first quarter, the Sixers had 12 assists on 14 baskets. Young continued his push for recognition as one of the league’s top sixth men, and reserve guard Lou Williams scored 15 points.
The Sixers are so balanced that they have six players averaging double-digits in scoring. But leading scorer Elton Brand (14.8 entering Wednesday) is tied for only 52nd in the league.
Brand’s off night (eight points) was offset by the reserves, and the Sixers are just staying sharp and healthy as their first playoff series in two years looms.
The Rockets will need wins and some help to make the playoffs. Lowry, the former Villanova standout who was cheered in pregame introductions, is trying to lead them there.
Lowry has stopped playing as a drive-only guard and worked to become more of a deep-ball threat. Rockets coach Rick Adelman called Lowry the team leader and “kind of the reason we turned this thing around.”
He showed a little bit of both in his return home. He hit his first three 3-point attempts and a running jumper to end the first half that put the Rockets up 55-52.
Lowry also showed his grit on a high-flying act over Houston’s bench as he went for a loose ball and nearly tumbled into the stands.
Lowry’s next 3 in the third stretched Houston’s lead to 76-70. The Sixers rallied and Williams’ 3 at the end of the quarter gave them an 84-82 lead.
Notes: Philadelphia’s 12 assists in the first were the most in any quarter this season. … The Rockets scored six straight points on six free throws after they were fouled on 3-point attempts in the second quarter. … Lowry was whistled for a technical foul in the fourth.
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