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Dalembert helps Sixers close out Rockets

Jan 16, 2008 - 5:34 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Samuel Dalembert made the key plays in the final minute and Andre Miller scored 26 points to help the Philadelphia 76ers snap their seven-game losing streak with a 111-107 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.

Dalembert converted a lob pass from Andre Iguodala into a dunk with 36 seconds left and then blocked Luis Scola's layup at the other end to help the 76ers secure the win.

Dalembert had 19 points and six rebounds for Philadelphia, which trailed by 12 early in the fourth quarter.

"Sam does that," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said of Dalembert's block on Scola, who had grabbed a miss by Yao Ming and tried to lay it back in with the 76ers leading 107-104. "He controls the middle of the paint."

Dalembert turned into a cheerleader for his young teammates when the 76ers appeared to be slipping to their eighth loss in a row. They trailed by 16 late in the third quarter and by 11 entering the fourth.

"We had to come back," said the 6-11 center out of Seton Hall, who scored 14 of his points in the first half, mostly on jumpers from the top of the key. "I kept talking to the guys. 'We can win this game. There's still a lot of time on the clock.'"

Reserves Louis Williams and rookie Thaddeus Young led a 15-1 run in the fourth to turn a 91-81 deficit into a 96-92 lead with 6:24 to play.

They combined to help force Houston into nine turnovers in the fourth quarter that led to 14 points for Philadelphia.

"We had to pick up the tempo," said Young, holding an ice bag on his head in the locker room after catching an inadvertent elbow from Rafer Alston. "We tried to play some good defense, steal the ball and get up and down the court."

Young scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth and Williams also scored eight in the final period.

"We've got guys who don't give up no matter what the circumstances," Williams said. "We turned our defense into good offense. We really started running the lanes, getting some easy baskets. It was quick. We got a lot of fast breaks."

The losing streak was tough, but never wore down the 76ers mentally.

"We were frustrated but not discouraged," Williams said. "That only turned into good energy for us."

"We were hitting a tough stretch in the schedule, playing good teams, experienced teams," Miller said.

Miller, who shot 10-of-18 and added six assists and three steals, played consistently all night. But he credited Williams and Young for turning the game in Philadelphia's favor.

"The young guys came in and played big minutes and made big plays," Miller said. "We fought our way back into it and found a way to finish it off."

"We deserved to win this one," Cheeks said. "It was just a gutsy win by the whole team."

Yao made his first eight field-goal attempts for the Rockets, but missed all three of his shots in the fourth quarter, finishing with 25 points.

"Calvin Booth came in and did a nice job fronting Yao Ming," Cheeks said. "We kind of changed our defense after that. Thaddeus Young and Louis Williams got their hands on a lot of balls and got in the open court and scored."

"I was trying to save a few minutes for Sam," Booth said of subbing for Dalembert at center. "Yao is one of the best players in the league. He has a little spin baseline (move), and you have to honor that."

Houston's leading scorer Tracy McGrady, who has been sidelined with a bruised bone and tendinitis in his left knee, could return for the next game, which is Saturday night at home vs. the San Antonio Spurs.

Houston's offense held up well without him for three quarters, shooting 56 percent entering the final 12 minutes. But it collapsed in the fourth.

"We just shot ourselves in the foot in the fourth quarter," Houston coach Rick Adelman said of his team getting outscored, 37-22, in the final period. "They beat us to the basket time after time in the fourth quarter. It was just entry passes (that led to the turnovers). You've got to be able to make that play."

Alston scored 20 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the closing minutes, but turned it over six times for the Rockets, who committed 17 turnovers.

"We had a lot of turnovers at the end," Houston rookie point guard Aaron Brooks said. "A team is not going to feel like they're out of it if we let them back in. We let them get some easy layups. Once they made those layups, they got a little rhythm and started making jump shots, and that was the game right there."

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