Rockets-76ers Preview

With similar results like in their last game, the Houston

Rockets might finally move into playoff position.

Coming off a dominating effort, the visiting Rockets should face

a tougher challenge Wednesday night, when they try to avoid a third

straight loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

With eight games remaining, Houston (39-35) moved within two

games of Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the

Western Conference following a 112-87 win over New Jersey on

Tuesday.

Kevin Martin scored 20 points and Kyle Lowry added 16 to go with

10 assists and seven rebounds as the Rockets bounced back after

their five-game winning streak ended with a 125-119 loss at Miami

on Sunday in the opener of a three-game eastern trip.

“We’re just playing. We’re happy, we’re having fun,” Lowry

said. “We just go out there and we’re flowing. We know who is going

to get the ball and how we’re going to score. We’re confident and

we’re finally getting something going.”

Averaging 118.0 points over the last four contests, the Rockets

sat most of their starters in the fourth quarter Tuesday with the

intention of giving them some extra rest heading into this

difficult contest.

“It was important to get guys some rest,” Lowry said. ”It’s

still a back to back, it’s still hard. We’ve got to go out there

and concentrate and play. We’re going into a hostile situation

against a good team playing for a better seed in their

conference.”

Though Houston has played well of late and is 17-11 against the

East this season, it has averaged just 97.1 points while dropping

six of seven versus Philadelphia.

Lowry, averaging 19.1 points in the last 15 games, had a

career-high 36 in Houston’s 114-105 home loss to the 76ers (38-36)

on Feb. 16.

Martin, who’s averaged 26.8 points over the last eight games,

was held to nine on 3-of-12 shooting in that contest.

Jrue Holiday had 20 points while Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams

each scored 19 for Philadelphia against the Rockets last month.

Young had 21 off the bench as the 76ers avoided a third straight

loss, 97-85 at East-leading Chicago on Monday.

Andre Iguodala, who posted a triple-double against the Rockets

this season, added 19 points as Philadelphia built a 23-point lead

and held the surging Bulls to 41.3 percent shooting.

“(That) is the best team in the East, so our guys should know we

should be capable of playing against anybody,” 76ers coach Doug

Collins said. “I could not be more proud of this team.”

Though the 76ers are 5-6 since winning seven of eight, they are

sixth in the East and in position to return to the playoffs after

winning just 27 games in 2009-10.

“That’s a good position for us to be in. Yes, it is,” Collins

told the 76ers’ official website.

After falling 114-111 in overtime to lowly Sacramento at home on

Sunday, the 76ers look to avoid consecutive losses at the Wells

Fargo Center for the first time since Nov. 5 and 17.