By Sean Kennedy
Houston 120, Philadelphia 98
Here’s all you really need to know about last night’s game: during the under 4-minute timeout of the 4th quarter, Houston stars Dwight Howard and James Harden were helping the Rockets hype squad throw t-shirts out into the crowd. That bit of fan service was the most on-court-related those guys did in the period, as the contest was already over after three quarters, and this time, there was no furious surge by the Sixers toward the end to make a game of things. As SportsCenter has been sure to point out to everyone in America over the last week or so, the NBA-record for consecutive losses is 26, and Philadelphia has now tied that mark of futility. Saturday’s home game against the Pistons will determine if they are ultimately the stinky cheese that stands alone.
While the Sixers had an above-average night from the perimeter to keep pace with the Rockets in that aspect of the game, they were absolutely obliterated down low, getting out-scored 62-36 on points in the paint. Philadelphia had zero answer for either of the Rockets’ all-stars, with Howard recording a double-double in just 26 minutes of action with 17 points (on perfect 6-6 shooting) and 13 rebounds. During any of the frequent times a Rocket would beat his man off the drive, a Sixers big man would come over to help and it was an easy lob to big Dwight for a flush. James Harden one-upped Howard in statistical categories, finishing with a triple-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. It’s at least the second time this season that I can remember that an opposing player has earned a triple-double against the Sixers while sitting out the entire fourth quarter (along with Russell Westbrook).
The main bright spot for the Sixers was the outside shooting of James Anderson, who hit 6 of 11 threes for a game-high 30 points. Anderson now has 2 30-point games in his career and they’ve both come against Houston this season. He must have felt slighted during his year with the Rockets because he certainly plays with an extra fire against them. Henry Sims also continued his strong recent play with 18 points, showing off nice touch from the outside with a couple of jumpers. He couldn’t do slow down Howard defensively, but there’s plenty of guys around the league who also struggle in that department.
- Despite the win, the Rockets may have suffered a huge loss in the game as Patrick Beverley took himself out of the game with a knee injury in the first half. He will have an MRI today but if that is something that affects his long-term status, it’s a game-changer for Houston. Beverley is their best perimeter defender and the guy who sets the tone for them in terms of intensity on that end of the floor. His absence from the line-up in a playoff series would change them from dark-horse contender to fodder for the rest of the Western Conference juggernauts. Maybe Popovich is on to something sitting his guys against the Sixers.
- Casper Ware made a half-court shot at the buzzer to end the first quarter. At least the former Long Beach State guard will have one good memory to look back on of his time in the NBA; he hasn’t shown anything to warrant sticking around at this level.
The Bucks won! With Milwaukee eking out a victory over the Lakers in a game that came down to the final possession, the Sixers pulled within one game of the NBA’s worst overall record. Interestingly, the TV broadcast went all-in on tank watch for the first time, providing live score updates of the Bucks game as that contest winded down, and showing Milwaukee’s remaining schedule. It reminded me of a bizarro version of a baseball pennant race. On the court, James Anderson and Henry Sims had nice offensive performances, but it was overall a flat effort from the team. 3/5 tanks. (But 5/5 tanks for the Milwaukee victory.)