Instant Replay: Rockets 120, Sixers 98

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Instant Replay: Rockets 120, Sixers 98

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- As expected, the 76ers didn’t give the Houston Rockets much of a game on Thursday at Toyota Center. The Sixers' youthful, inexperienced roster couldn’t keep with the likes of James Harden and Dwight Howard, losing 120-98.

With the loss, the 76ers tied the NBA's single-season record for most consecutive defeats at 26, matching the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sixers' last win was on Jan. 29 at Boston when Evan Turner, who is no longer with the team, made a buzzer-beating layup.

The Sixers have lost 12 straight road games. Since winning a season-high four games, the Sixers are 3-36.

Turning point
After the 76ers tied the game 43-43 on a reverse layup by James Anderson, a Howard alley-oop dunk from Jeremy Lin gave the Rockets a 45-43 lead with 5:59 remaining in the second quarter. After Anderson’s basket, the Rockets outscored the Sixers 20-6 to take a 63-49 halftime advantage.

Follow the leader
Anderson had a good shooting night for the 76ers with a game-high 30 points, making six three-pointers. Thaddeus Young added 15 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers.

Harden had an outstanding overall game, collecting 26 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in only three quarters. Howard had 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Stat-egic
The Sixers took 36 three-pointers, making 14.

Through three quarters, the Rockets had 30 points off the break, matching their season-high in fast-break points. They ended up with 34 fast-break points.

Take a bow
The Rockets’ excellent ball movement was something the youthful 76ers can look at as an example of what it takes to win in the NBA. If the remainder of the season is to be used as a learning tool for the 76ers, they should look at the Rockets as a model.

Early exit
Rockets starting point guard Pat Beverley left the game in the first quarter with a right knee sprain and did not return.

What’s next?
The 76ers will attempt not to set the NBA record for most consecutive losses when they host Detroit on Saturday. The 76ers are 0-3 this season against the Pistons, 0-1 at home.

On Jan. 10 at the Wells Fargo Center, Detroit won 114-104 despite the Sixers jumping out to a 19-4 lead.

The Sixers have lost 18 straight home games.

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Brett Brown left training camp last September with an unsettling feeling. He had just completed long days of scrimmages, drills and planning, and yet he sensed the Sixers were not ready to tackle the 82 games that lied ahead. 

“I remember driving back to Philadelphia last year knowing in my heart of heart that this group was going to be challenged,” Brown said Thursday following the morning practice session at Stockton University. “That was a frightening drive home. That drive home scared me because I felt like, I know what we have and how are we going to be able to maneuver through this?”

Brown was right. The Sixers lost their first 18 games and began the season 1-30. They stumbled the rest of the way, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a dismal 10-72 record. 

“We really didn’t know who the point guard was,” Brown said. “We came in extremely injured, we were trying to make the Nerlens [Noel]-Jahlil [Okafor] thing work, there really weren’t a lot of veterans to look around [and see], and you knew it.”

Now in his fourth training camp as head coach, with 47 wins and 199 losses with the Sixers behind him, Brown has different emotions as the team nears the end of training camp on Friday. 

Instead of a constantly-changing lineup of players, the Sixers are building a roster that can serve as the foundation for the future. There are nine new players on the team, including first overall pick Ben Simmons and rookie Dario Saric. Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut after two years of injuries, and the Sixers added veteran leaders in free agency.

Brown has a clearer picture of what the team could look like this season and beyond. He is coaching training camp to enter a new chapter, not to simply make it through the upcoming months. 

“You can leave and you can sniff reality,” Brown said. “Now what I see is there’s depth. There are challenges positionally as we’ve talked about. But there’s talent. There’s point guards. They’re sprinkled in with some veterans. How we grow it and play it is still on the table. To me, it’s a completely different feeling that I have now that I did not have last year.”

The additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez at the one spot lessen the coaching load for Brown. He also can turn to T.J. McConnell from last season. The depth is a far cry from when the Sixers were quickly changing at that position and didn’t find a consistent starter until they traded for Ish Smith in late December.

“That position, I think, is vital when you start putting a bunch of 20-year-olds around it and trying to find some type of organization,” Brown said. “You just can’t replace a point guard’s intellect. You can’t replace, I think, somebody that has great command from that position. It certainly helps me.”

Brown expects to feel “proud” when the Sixers wrap training camp on Friday. He is looking forward to getting the season underway, beginning with two practices at the new training complex in Camden before their first preseason game Oct. 4 against the Celtics. 

Brown anticipates his drive home this time will be a much different trip. 

“I feel comfortable that we’re ticking boxes and we’re achieving the goals that we set out from the start of what we wanted to get done in Stockton,” he said.

The Sixers continued to monitor load management on Thursday, as Okafor, Embiid and Gerald Henderson did not participate in the morning scrimmage. Bayless also did not go through the scrimmage because of a sore left wrist. 

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers' abundance of big men lends itself to numerous combinations in the frontcourt.

On Thursday, Nerlens Noel had his first experience playing with Ben Simmons. The center gelled with the rookie forward.

"It's a great duo, I think," Noel said following the morning practice session of training camp at Stockton University.

Noel has been paired with many big men during his career with the Sixers. Last season, he faced the challenge of playing out of position at times with Jahlil Okafor. The logjam prompted him to speak out about the current makeup of the roster (see story).

After playing with Simmons, Noel saw how the two can share the court.

"I think we complement each other very well, especially on the defensive end," Noel said. "He's definitely a lockdown type defender that digs in."

Even though Simmons has yet to play an NBA game, Noel already envisions how he can help the Sixers.

"He just plays basketball the right way," Noel said. "When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."