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Back home, 76ers top Rockets, stop losing streak

Wednesday, January 7, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 11:30 AM

PHILADELPHIA – Andre Iguodala scored 28 points and the reeling Philadelphia 76ers returned home from a dreadful road trip to beat the Houston Rockets 104-96 on Tuesday night.

The Sixers needed to escape the Lone Star State to finally defeat a team from Texas. They lost at Dallas and San Antonio in the final two games of a 1-5 road trip and had lost six of seven overall, parking them in last place in the Atlantic Division.

Philadelphia 76ers' Willie Green (33) goes up for a shot as Houston Rockets' Yao AP – Philadelphia 76ers' Willie Green (33) goes up for a shot as Houston Rockets' Yao Ming defends

Heading home was the perfect tonic. Iguodala continued on his recent scoring surge and scored nine points in the third quarter to help the Sixers stretch the lead to 11.

Iguodala nailed a 3-pointer in front of the Rockets bench late in the fourth to halt Houston's 11-2 run that had sliced the gap to six. He sank a runner in the lane for a 98-92 lead that dashed Houston's last-gasp at a comeback win.

Now, it's the Rockets who want to get back to Texas. They've lost five straight on the road for the first time since 2004.

Luis Scola led six Rockets in double figures with 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.

Playing for the second straight game without forward Ron Artest (ankle), the Rockets may as well have also played without Tracy McGrady in the second half. McGrady didn't make his first basket of the half until 2:07 remained to make it 98-94, then watched as Sixers rookie Maurice Speights rattled the rim with a dunk that pushed the lead back to six.

The Sixers entered shooting 49 percent from the floor, but won for the first time at home since Dec. 17 by shooting a robust 56 percent. That kind of percentage is exactly what the Sixers need if they want to vault back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Rockets kept pace for a half, had assists on the first 10 baskets of the game and led 55-53 at the break.

Then the Sixers got rolling. Thaddeus Young dunked off the break and Iguodala tied the game on a driving layup, the first two baskets of a 19-4 run that gave them a 72-61 lead. Philly dominated on the break, outscoring the Rockets 29-9, making this game a bit like its style of play as it ran into last season's playoffs.

The Sixers slowed down a bit this season with the free-agent acquisition of Elton Brand and have stumbled to a 14-20 start. Brand is making progress while rehabbing his injured right shoulder and the forward could be back with the team in about two weeks.

Philadelphia only hopes it can still run and work in Brand as the perfect trailer on the break, and needs him to get back to his usual double-double style when it calls a halfcourt set to put the playoffs on the horizon.

McGrady, Yao Ming, Von Wafer and Carl Landry all scored 14 points for the Rockets.

Notes:@ Andre Miller passed Larry Bird on the career assist list. He's now 32nd. ... Brand hasn't played for the struggling Sixers since he sustained a fracture and tear in his right shoulder on Dec. 17 against Milwaukee. ... Rockets C Dikembe Mutombo did not play. ... The 76ers wished the Eagles luck in their playoff game against the Giants.

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