Sixers-Rockets: 5 things you need to know


Sixers-Rockets: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (15-56) will try to avoid matching the longest losing skid in NBA history when they finish their three-game road trip against the Houston Rockets (48-22).

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (CSN) at the Toyota Center.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. History in the making
The Sixers' losing streak has produced some incredible numbers.

They've been outscored by 16.9 points a game, allowed 111 points a game and been held under 100 points 18 times.

Still, the only number that matters when the Sixers hit the floor on Thursday is one, as in they are just a single game away from tying the NBA record for consecutive losses with 26. The mark is currently held by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.

While the Sixers would certainly like to avoid that scenario and win for the first time since Jan. 29, it likely won't happen in Houston. The Rockets sit in fourth place in the supremely-competitive Western Conference and have won four games in a row, all against teams under .500.

2. Fear the beard
Dwight Howard might want all the attention, but the focus of the Rockets clearly revolves around James Harden.

Harden is fifth in the NBA in scoring with 24.9 points per game. The All-Star is also averaging 5.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Plus, Harden connects on 36.9 percent of his shots from three-point range.

But don't confuse him for just a jump shooter. Harden lives in the lane with his patented Euro step. He averages 8.5 free throw attempts per game, fourth-highest in the entire league.

Harden missed the first game between these two teams earlier this season, a 123-117 overtime win on Nov. 13. However, he has recently been a matchup nightmare for the Sixers. The fifth-year guard averaged 31.0 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds against them in the two meetings last season.

Whether he's knocking down jumpers with that lefty stroke or getting to the rim, Harden will pose a tough challenge for the Sixers on Thursday.

3. Duck and cover
Harden isn't the only player the Sixers have to worry about from beyond the arc.

The Rockets are a lethal team from three-point range. They attempt a league-high 26.1 shots from deep per game and are fifth in makes at 9.3.

The Sixers should know just how dangerous the Rockets are at hitting threes. They gave up 15 of them in this season's first matchup.

Thursday night won't be a situation when the Sixers can lock down the perimeter early and discourage their opponent from hoisting up treys. With the Rockets' habit of firing all night, the Sixers will need to pay heavy attention to their shooters.

4. Injuries
Tony Wroten (ankle) will miss his third straight game.

Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jason Richardson (knee) are out.

Howard knocked knees during practice on Wednesday, but the center will be fine to take the court against the Sixers.

Francisco Garcia missed the Rockets' last two games because of personal reasons.

5. This and that
• Despite the skid, the Sixers are somehow still ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks in the standings. The Bucks have the NBA's worst record at 13-58.

• While the Sixers have been outscored by 16.9 points per game during their skid, the 2010-11 Cavs were outscored by 13.7 points a night.

• The Rockets are shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range during their four-game win streak.

• The Rockets haven't lost at home since Jan. 24, five days before the Sixers' last win.

• James Anderson led all scorers with 36 points during the season's first meeting between the teams.

Sixers eyeing players waived by other teams before finalizing roster

Sixers eyeing players waived by other teams before finalizing roster

CAMDEN, N.J. — As the Sixers decide who to keep on their roster and who to waive before the regular season, they also are keeping an eye on moves around the league.

Teams have been making cuts as the preseason winds down. In addition to assessing their own group of players, the Sixers are watching who becomes available. 

"There's always stuff that comes in late. You think you know a few days out and sometimes something happens," Brett Brown said after practice Thursday. "There are other teams that are releasing people too, and so the table is very fluid. The marketplace forces you to pay attention and make sure you're doing your job and growing your team. It's hard to say honestly (that) everything's in place and it's set, you know exactly [who] the 15 (players) are going to be. That is not true."

The Sixers' needs have shifted since the start of training camp. Once deep in the frontcourt and at the one spot, the Sixers have been hit by injuries to point-forward Ben Simmons (right Jones fracture), projected starting point guard Jerryd Bayless (sore left wrist), big man Jahlil Okafor (right knee) and center Nerlens Noel (left groin strain). They reportedly expressed interested in Timberwolves point guard Tyus Jones, according to The Vertical.

The roster stands at 20. Elton Brand announced he will be retiring, which clears up a spot. Cat Barber, Shawn Long, Brandon Paul and James Webb III, who signed with the Sixers this offseason, are those likely to be waived. Players that don't make the Sixers still could end on their D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.

The Sixers will play their final preseason game on Friday against the Heat in Miami. Brown does not foresee a huge change to happen from the finale. He has been observing many of the Sixers since Summer League, and others returned to Philadelphia to work out ahead of training camp.

"I think it all adds up," Brown said. "We've seen a body of work. We've seen a lot. I think that it will play out more with that in mind than a dramatic performance on the last game of an NBA preseason."

When it comes time for Brown to make the final decision, the conversations don't get easier over the years. 

"It's always hard for me," Brown said. "A lot of these guys were with us over the summertime, so it's not like you just met him. It's never an easy time. But it's also a time, you feel like you've done your best to help them. They'll be better off, I think, for having spent time with us."

The Sixers begin the regular season on Oct. 26 at home against the Thunder.

Report: Sixers have shown interest in Timberwolves PG Tyus Jones

Report: Sixers have shown interest in Timberwolves PG Tyus Jones

With Ben Simmons and Jerryd Bayless hurt, the Sixers are still lacking a distributor, and so it makes sense that they've been in contact with the point guard-rich Timberwolves.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Sixers and New Orleans Pelicans have shown interest in T'wolves backup point guard Tyus Jones. 

With fifth overall pick Kris Dunn and Ricky Rubio, Minnesota is set at PG. Jones, 20, is third on the totem pole a year after being drafted 24th overall. 

According to Wojnarowski, the Timberwolves are more inclined to trade Jones than Rubio. 

Jones has a connection to the Sixers in Jahlil Okafor, a former teammate at Duke. Both were one-and-dones for the 2014-15 National Championship team. Jones averaged 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the Blue Devils. 

He played sparingly as a rookie last season with Minnesota (37 games), averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 assists in 15.5 minutes, but stood out this summer, winning Las Vegas Summer League MVP.

T.J. McConnell has started the majority of the preseason at point guard for the Sixers. Sergio Rodriguez got the nod in the last game against the Pistons. Brett Brown is also looking at Nik Stauskas to fill the spot in a non-traditional role.