Rockets-76ers Preview

Allen Iverson’s 10-year run with the Philadelphia 76ers ended

three years ago with the team in the midst of a 12-game losing

streak.

With one more defeat, his second stint with the Sixers will

begin the same way.

Philadelphia will try again to end the NBA’s longest active

losing streak as it continues a five-game homestand Friday night

against the Houston Rockets.

The Sixers had lost 11 straight when they traded Iverson – the

backbone of their franchise for the previous decade – to Denver on

Dec. 19, 2006. They eventually dropped a 12th consecutive game, and

they’ll have to beat Houston if they want to avoid matching that

skid.

The signing of Iverson, prompted by an injury to point guard Lou

Williams, hasn’t immediately helped. The 38-year-old is just 7 of

21 from the field in his first two games, with the Sixers (5-17)

averaging 84.5 points in a pair of home losses.

They lost 90-86 on Wednesday to an injury-depleted Detroit team

that was lacking Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun

Prince.

“It’s going to have to be one of the best games ever from us in

order to win,” Iverson said.

Philadelphia also hoped the return of Iverson would boost ticket

sales, and the team sold out the Wachovia Center for the first time

this season in his debut on Monday.

But just 12,136 fans watched Wednesday’s loss as the Sixers fell

to 3-7 at home. Their average of fewer than 13,000 fans is among

the lowest in the NBA.

“It’s going to get better,” Iverson said. “This is one of these

times when you find out what type of character you have as

men.”

The Rockets (12-9) have shown resilience this season while

playing without injured stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, and their

7-5 road record includes impressive victories over the Los Angeles

Lakers and Utah.

Houston has won four of five overall and is coming off a 95-85

home victory over Cleveland on Wednesday night, as the team got big

performances from leading scorers Trevor Ariza and Aaron

Brooks.

Brooks had 27 points and Ariza added 26 on 11-of-19 shooting.

Ariza had been 31 of 91 (34.1 percent) from the field in his

previous five games.

“It was real big for me to get my confidence back up so that my

teammates give me the ball again,” Ariza told the Rockets’ official

Web site. “It feels good. I’m happy that I’m starting to come out

of this little slump I was in. Once one or two go in, you feel like

the rim is huge and that’s how I felt tonight.”

The Rockets also held the Cavs to 40.0 percent shooting, with

LeBron James going 8 of 21. Houston has struggled defensively at

times, but its last six opponents are averaging just 92.0

points.

“I don’t think too many people have talked about our defense so

far, so it’s nice to point to (Wednesday’s) game as an example of

what we’re capable of doing when we really focus on defense,”

forward Shane Battier said.

The Sixers have been able to score on Houston lately, shooting

above 50 percent and averaging 102.5 points while winning four

straight against the Rockets over the last two seasons.