In The Post: Rockets 132, Sixers 123 in 2OT
Monday night basketball from Texas as the Philadelphia 76ers fall in their only visit to Houston this season, extending their losing streak to three as they now head home for a season-long seven-game home stand. A bad loss in an up-and-down game.
Here’s what stood out:
Welcome back James Harden
After a month off and 14 games missed, the Sixers All-Star Harden, based on body language, didn’t seem to like the minutes restrictions early on. But, with the game going to double OT, head coach Doc Rivers chose to go with his best down the stretch so it opened up Harden’s availability. He played 38-plus minutes, scored 21 points, collected four rebounds, and handed out seven assists. But turned the ball over seven times with two coming in the second overtime.
A weird opening quarter in this one
The Sixers led after one, 30-27, but what stood out was how the Rockets got their 27. They were just 6 for 15 from the floor with two made threes – most of their points came at the foul line as they went 13 for 15 from the charity stripe. If not for their trip to trip to the line and the Sixers piling up the total fouls, things would’ve looked significantly different to start. Houston was simply very aggressive. In the end, the hosts got to the line 44 times making 34. The Sixers (28 for 36) are normally the ones who parade to the line but the Rockets are the ones who benefitted on this night.
The Rockets fight no matter what the score looks like
Down by as much as 10 in the first half, they fought back in the second quarter by shooting 50 percent from the floor and, again, getting to the foul line making 6 of 7 attempts, while the 76ers only had one attempt at the line and did not connect. Houston led at the break, 55-54. If you allow any team to hang around, that isn’t on your level, confidence will build – and that’s exactly what happened as the Sixers picked up the loss.
On a positive note…
Tobias Harris has been on fire from beyond through the last two games – going 12 for 14 on his triples. Harris, a career 36.8 percent from deep, is shooting at a 38 percent clip on the season. If he can hover around that number or higher… that would open up so many chances for him and the team. He connected on 6 of 7 against Houston, the biggest at the 5:03 mark in the fourth to pull the Sixers within one at 101-100.