for this game

76ers' block party comes at expense of Rockets

Jan 29, 2009 - 7:07 AM By Gene Duffy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Samuel Dalembert made a huge block in the closing seconds and the Philadelphia 76ers stormed back from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to overtake the Houston Rockets for a 95-93 victory Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.

Dalembert, Philadelphia's 6-11 center, picked up Tracy McGrady on a switch and partially deflected McGrady's 3-point attempt to win the game.

After the Rockets got a stop on Philadelphia' final possession, they called time out, giving them the ball in the front court with 5.8 seconds to play.

It was Dalembert's fourth block of the game. The 76ers blocked 14 shots, with Elton Brand getting six blocks.

"I knew he didn't have more time, so he wasn't going to drive on me," Dalembert said of McGrady.

"That was a big play," Philadelphia point guard Andre Miller said. "(Dalembert) put a hand up and didn't foul him."

Not only did Dalembert block the final shot, he did a marvelous defensive job all night on Yao, who had missed the last two games with a sore right knee. Yao scored only 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

"Sam Dalembert did a phenomenal job against Yao, keeping him off balance," 76ers coach Tony DiLeo said. "We didn't want to try to double (Yao) and leave the 3-point shooters open, so most of the time Sam was alone with Yao down low.

"We mixed it up. Sometimes we tried to double. Sometimes Sam played in front. Sometimes he played behind. Yao's such a good player if you just play one type of defense on him you let him get in a comfort zone."

Dalembert said he didn't learn until Wednesday's shootaround that Yao would definitely play.

"Having him play was a pleasure for me," Dalembert said with respect for Yao. "He did some good things for them at the end. A guy that touches the ball so many times, I didn't need to let him get started early. You have to give him different looks. Everything he got tonight he earned."

Brand was playing in only his third game after missing 16 with a dislocated right shoulder.

"It was good to see Elton playing more minutes," DiLeo said of Brand, who came off the bench to contribute 14 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes. "I think every game he's getting better and better. Tonight he got his rhythm. This is what we expected. It would take some time."

"I got some solid minutes and was able to contribute to the victory," Brand said. "I didn't know how many minutes I was going to play. I was just going with the flow."

Andre Iguodala led Philadelphia with 20 points, including a jumper from the right baseline with 36 seconds left to give the 76ers a four-point lead. Yao's basket with 29 seconds to go cut the 76ers lead to two and he was fouled, but failed to convert the free throw.

Iguodala scored 14 of his points in the second half.

"I got in foul trouble, dumb fouls," Iguodala said of the first half. "I told myself to get it together. This is an important game for us to get. We can't lose two in a row. In the last 10 games we've done a good job converting fastbreaks."

McGrady led Houston with 24 points.

"It's a bad loss," McGrady said. "I feel that we played exceptionally well for three quarters. We had a seven, then a five-point lead and then we fell apart. We couldn't get rebounds. They were getting layups."

"It seemed like we had control, but we made so many mistakes and our concentration seemed like it wandered," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "You have got to finish the game. We were missing point blank shots."

Houston led 76-71 after three quarters.

The surging 76ers have won 9-of-11 and completed a two-game sweep of the season series with the Rockets.

"We really tried to concentrate on defense," DiLeo said. "(Houston) shot 41 percent, so we put a big effort into our defense. Then we get out on the break and work in the open court. During this whole stretch we've been really trying to play good defense."

"We're moving the ball, forcing turnovers and we're active on defense," Miller added.

Trailing 65-51 midway through the third, Philadelphia regained the lead at 87-86 on two free throws by Andre Miller with 4:57 to play.

"The team never gave up," DiLeo said of his 76ers. "The first half we turned it over way too much. That was the problem we had in the New Orleans game (a 101-86 loss Monday night). The second half I think we only had four turnovers."

"We could have easily been out of the game with the amount of turnovers (14) in the first half," Miller said. "We kept fighting and a few plays fell our way. Thaddeus (Young) kept us in there with his defense. The second group played big."

Reserve guard Louis Williams gave the 76ers a lift with 17 points.

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