Sixers-Rockets: 5 things you need to know

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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.

Best quotes from Sixers 2016 media day

Best quotes from Sixers 2016 media day

CAMDEN, N.J. — Sixers president Bryan Colangelo and all 20 players on the team's training camp roster spoke at the organization's new state-of-the-art training complex during media day.

Here are some of the best quotes from Monday's session:

Colangelo on rebuilding process being like building new training complex
"This is the start of a new season, a new moment for the franchise. We've talked a lot about the growth and building process. We're looking forward, not back. A lot of this reminds me of, it's not dissimilar to a construction site on a skyscraper or a real estate project. There's been a lot of work being done to the infrastructure here for several months and in this case several years. We're on the verge of establishing things above grade, things that hopefully move this organization forward. We're looking ahead with a lot of excitement and a lot of anticipation on where it might go."

Elton Brand on competition among the big men
"I expect a bloodbath. I expect a battle. These guys are big, they're talented and they all have different skill sets. They are good. They can really play. Joel [Embiid] being healthy,[Jahlil Okafor], of course Nerlens [Noel] and Dario [Saric]. That's the fives. Then the fours, the number one pick, he's going to play. Jerami Grant took a leap. It's a lot of talent, so it's going to be fun to watch and be a part of."

Embiid on watching so much live and taped basketball while injured
"I've learned a lot. I'm really someone who loves watching basketball, who loves learning. To this day I still watch my college stuff because I love watching myself. I'll watch myself probably every day. Then I watch some of the other guys. I watch everybody's game. I just love being around basketball and watching games. NBA games or college games. Obviously NBA games are different than college. I can't really watch college basketball anymore because it just drives me crazy."

Okafor on whether his eyes light up when a guard switches onto him
"My eyes always light up no matter who's guarding me. I feel like I can do whatever I want. No matter if the person is smaller or bigger, it doesn't matter to me."

Ben Simmons on being considered a leader even though he's a rookie
"Definitely. I believe I'm a leader no matter what it is. Whether I'm playing Scrabble, Monopoly, Pictionary, whatever the game is. I try to lead whenever the occasion arises."

Brand on being in shape to play
"The offseason, I don't go on the basketball court as much as I did when I knew I'd be on a roster or trying to be on a roster. I just try to stay in cool dad shape. Riding my bike. I want my clothes to fit. I don't want to be like some NBA players that retire and play a long time and don't look as good. I was just working on riding my bike, jogging, swimming and then I'll hit the court."

Sergio Rodriguez on coming back to the NBA after a six-year absence
"It's been 10 years [since my NBA debut]. I've changed many things in my basketball skills. Also personal, the way that I act now, the way that I treat my body now. The way that I think is way different than it was when I first came into the league. For me it's a big challenge to come here at 30 years old and try to get an opportunity with the Sixers."

T.J. McConnell on letting Gerald Henderson have his No. 12 jersey
"I got a text from Scott Rego our equipment guy saying that Gerald's dad wore 12 when he played here and he would like to do the same and would I be willing to give up the number. So I just gave it up and I think one was the only other point-guard-looking number so I just took it. Nothing was added to the McConnell fund. All I got was a firm handshake, that's about it."

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."