Sixers-Rockets: 5 things you need to know

Sixers-Rockets: 5 things you need to know
March 27, 2014, 11:00 am
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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.