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Iguodala, Sixers hold off struggling Rockets

Jan 7, 2009 - 5:14 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- It took three tries, but the Philadelphia 76ers finally got their first win of 2009. The Houston Rockets, on the other hand, are still waiting on theirs.

Andre Iguodala scored 28 points and the Sixers withstood a late push en route to a 104-96 victory over the Rockets on Tuesday night.

After closing out a miserable road trip with two tough losses to Dallas and San Antonio, the Sixers finally got on track in this one - or, more specifically, they got on track in the third quarter.

"That first game at home after a long trip is one of the hardest to play," Iguodala said. "The guys were focused in on the gameplan. It is a bigger win than just a 'W' from a morale standpoint."

They fell behind by four early in the third but answered with a furious 19-4 rally to seize control. Iguodala scored seven points in the surge.

"I (was) just being a little more aggressive," Iguodala said. "I just starting to get the feeling that I have been trying to get the whole. I have to continue to attack."

He added six more in a 10-3 spurt to start the final session, but the Rockets methodically pushed back into contention, as they began to attack the basket with ease and knocked some clutch free throws. The closest they got, however, was four points on Tracy McGrady's driving layup with 2:05 remaining.

But Marreese Speights responded with a bucket on the other end as the Sixers held on.

"We lost some tight ones on the road. We should have (won) at Denver and at Dallas," Sixers guard Louis Williams said. "In those games, we had lapses where we didn't have good possessions. So when they made their run in the fourth, we knew that we had to buckle down and not let them (get) easy drives. We didn't go for any home-run plays. We kept it simple and got the shots that we wanted."

With the loss, the Rockets remained winless over the first three games of their five-game road trip. For the second straight night, they missed defensive stalwart Ron Artest, who is nursing a swollen right ankle. Coincidentally or not, the Sixers shot a blistering 56 percent (41-of-73) from the field and got to the foul line 35 times.

"They attacked and they got to the basket and whatever they wanted to do they did," McGrady said. "If they wanted to get to the basket, they got to the basket. If they wanted a wide-open shot on the perimeter, by God, they got that, too. We gave them everything."

It was their second stellar offensive performance in a row, after they went for 106 points on 54 percent shooting in a two-point loss to mighty San Antonio - including a 12-of-14 showing from point guard Andre Miller, who never exactly has been known as a sharpshooter.

This time around, however, the Sixers' defense came to play as well.

"After halftime, we really stepped on our defense," Philadelphia interim coach Tony DiLeo said. "We were disappointed in the first half with the defense, giving them so many open and easy looks. So defensively, in the second half I thought that the defense was better."

Despite being manhandled by Houston forward Luis Scola in the paint - to the tune of 18 points and 17 rebounds - the Sixers held just about everyone else in check. Yao Ming managed to get off just nine field-goal attempts - connecting on four and finishing with a pedestrian 14-point, six-rebound performance.

"We are just starting to find ways to win," Iguodala said. "It starts on the defensive end. You get stops and then you get easy baskets and you go from there."

McGrady - still hobbled by an ailing left knee that has been bothering him all season - couldn't pick up the slack, going 5-of-15 from the field. No stranger to last-minute heroics, the perennial All-Star had a chance to make up for his subpar night with 90 seconds left to play and Houston down by six.

He took an inbounds pass on the left wing and immediately launched a 3-pointer that could have cut the deficit in half, but it clanked high off the rim. McGrady went 0-of-5 from the arc on the night.

Speights and Williams came up big off the bench for Philadelphia, scoring 15 points apiece.

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    Rockets 71, 76ers 79  End of 3rdJan 7 12:00 AM

  • ** CONFIRMED **
    HOUSTON 96

    Jan 6 9:54 PM

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