The Houston Rockets haven't taken advantage of a home-heavy stretch in their schedule. Hosting the Philadelphia 76ers doesn't look like the best way for them to re-establish their dominance at the Toyota Center.
Returning to Houston for the first time since a disappointing six-game homestand, the Rockets hope for a better performance Saturday night when they host a Sixers team that's won a season-high three straight.
Houston (27-22) won eight in a row at home from Dec. 9-Jan. 13 to improve to 12-4 there. But the Rockets have dropped five of eight at home since that streak, including four of six on a frustrating homestand from Jan. 23-Feb. 2.
Houston capped that stretch on a high note with a rout of Golden State and followed that with a 101-83 road win over Memphis on Friday night. Aaron Brooks scored 19 and Carl Landry and Trevor Ariza added 17 apiece as the Rockets forced 17 turnovers and outrebounded the Grizzlies 50-35.
"When we play defense like that, we feel like we can hang on anybody," Houston forward Shane Battier said. "They had a couple of spurts in the first quarter, but aside from that, we did a great job of protecting the paint, getting it back and transitioning."
Building on that win and re-establishing themselves as a strong home team could be tough against a Sixers club playing its best basketball of the season. Philadelphia (18-31) extended its current run with a 101-94 victory at New Orleans on Friday night.
After struggling to adapt to his new role coming off the bench, New Orleans native Thaddeus Young scored 19 points and shot 8 for 9 in 25 minutes against the Hornets.
"I was much more aggressive than in the past few games," said Young, who had averaged 7.8 points and shot 36.6 percent over his previous five games. "I can sit out there and shoot jumpers, but I want to get inside and be aggressive. I played good around the basket."
Young and the Sixers hope their recent play is a sign of things to come as they try to break into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
"It's definitely a confidence booster," Young said. "We've needed that all year. As long as we keep going out there and getting wins, it's going to be great for us. We got out on the break and pretty much got every look that we wanted. We put ourselves in the right position to win the game."
Young had 15 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 7 for 11 in Philadelphia's first meeting with Houston this season, but the Rockets outlasted the 76ers 96-91 on Dec. 11 in Philadelphia.
Landry scored a team-high 20 points off the bench for Houston, which had six players score in double figures. Brooks added 16 of his 19 in the second half as the Rockets snapped a four-game losing streak in the series.
Andre Iguodala had 24 points and went 8 for 13 from the field in the December meeting. He's averaged 24.0 points and shot 57.1 percent in his last three games against Houston.
The Rockets and Sixers have reportedly explored the possibility that Houston could acquire Iguodala in a trade for Tracy McGrady, who has left the team after management told him they couldn't find minutes for him following his recovery from microfracture knee surgery. The trade deadline is Feb. 18.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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