76ers-Rockets Preview

The All-Star break may be coming at the right time for the

struggling and fatigued Philadelphia 76ers.

The Atlantic Division leaders attempt to enter the break by

snapping their longest losing streak of the season and adding to

their recent success against the host Houston Rockets on Wednesday

night.

Philadelphia (20-13) has lost four in a row, largely due to a

considerable drop in offensive production. The 76ers have averaged

82.3 points and shot 39.3 percent during their skid after averaging

95.9 points over their first 29 games.

“We’re just not competing at our highest level, and we’re

getting beat,” guard Louis Williams said. “Whether you want to

blame it on injuries or any of that, we’re just not playing at our

highest level. We haven’t had everybody on the same page in these

last four games and we’ve got to get back to that.”

They had one of their worst offensive performances of the season

Tuesday, an 89-76 loss in Memphis that included a 10-point first

quarter.

Despite that, Philadelphia trailed by just five at halftime but

could never take command, due in part to giving up 24 points off

turnovers.

“Guys are starting a little tired, a little fatigued. The good

thing is we have a break around the corner,” forward Thaddeus Young

said. “We want to end the stretch of tough games with a win before

we go into the (All-Star break).”

Judging by recent results against Houston, the 76ers could have

a good chance at that victory. Philadelphia, which leads New York

and Boston by four games atop the Atlantic, has won seven of its

last eight meetings with the Rockets (19-14) overall, and four in a

row at the Toyota Center.

Houston is seeking its third straight victory after a 1-3 slump.

The Rockets have played their best at home under first-year coach

Kevin McHale, going 13-4.

“We’ve showed some toughness, showed some fight,” McHale said.

“We’ve got to keep improving. We’ve got to get better defensively.

We’ve got to get better spacing on offense. We’ve got to get better

every day that we’re together.”

Kyle Lowry’s 24 points, including two free throws with six

seconds left, helped Houston prevail 97-93 against visiting Memphis

on Monday.

Lowry scored a career-high 36 points and shot 15 of 18 at home

against Philadelphia last February, but the Rockets fell

114-105.

Jrue Holiday had 20 points in that contest to lead seven 76ers

in double figures. One of those players, forward Elton Brand, was

scratched before Tuesday’s game because of a sprained right

thumb.

Holiday, who has reached 20 points only six times this season

but has done so in each of the last two games, averaged a team-best

22.0 against Houston in 2010-11 while shooting 69.6 percent.

Young shot 60.6 percent and totaled 41 points in last season’s

two game series.

Lowry made 11 of 17 3-point attempts against the 76ers in

2010-11.