March 9, 2019 / 3:41 AM / 16 days ago

Rockets top 76ers, extend win streak to seven

EditorsNote: Denoted ‘visiting’ team in lede graf; Other minor style tweaks throughout; Added apostrophe to 76ers’ in 4th graf; Added Simmons’ turnovers in 4th

Mar 8, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) warms up prior to the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden scored 31 points, Eric Gordon chipped in 17 with five 3-pointers, and the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to a season-best seven games with their 107-91 victory over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Friday at Toyota Center.

Harden added 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals to his ledger as the Rockets seized control with a 14-2 spurt midway through the first quarter. Philadelphia played its eighth consecutive game without All-Star center Joel Embiid (left knee), falling to 4-4 in that stretch.

A combination of lethargic defense and errant shooting did the 76ers in, particularly early. While Houston rolled to a 37-point opening period on 56.5-percent shooting, Philadelphia missed all four of its 3-point attempts in the first quarter while shooting 10 of 24 (41.7 percent) overall.

The 76ers’ shooting did not improve throughout the course of the game, with Philadelphia finishing 3 for 26 from behind the arc while shooting 36.8 percent from the floor. Tobias Harris paced the 76ers with 22 points and nine rebounds while Jimmy Butler posted 19 points and nine boards. Ben Simmons also grabbed nine rebounds to complement his 15 points and 10 assists along with seven turnovers.

Rockets center Clint Capela barely missed a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. Gerald Green added 14 points off the bench. Houston finished 13 for 41 from behind the arc.

Houston led 57-35 on a Chris Paul pull-up jumper late in the first half before the 76ers responded with a 9-0 run that cut the deficit to 13. But Harden, who departed the game briefly after taking a hard fall on his right wrist in the third quarter, beat Butler off the dribble and converted a driving layup that extended the Houston lead to 15 points at the intermission.

Philadelphia clawed to within 12 points on a Simmons dunk with just under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter before Houston delivered the knockout blow with an 11-2 burst that featured three 3s.

Houston led by as many as 24 points at 96-72 on an Iman Shumpert corner 3 in the final period.

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