HOUSTON — The Philadelphia 76ers etched their name in the NBA record book ignominiously, dropping their 26th consecutive game in a 120-98 loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night at Toyota Center.
The 76ers (15-57) matched the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers for the longest losing skid in the four major American professional sports leagues. They erased a 14-point deficit and drew even at 43-43 midway through the second quarter before Houston closed the half with a 20-6 run and pulled away.
The Rockets (49-22) stretched their home-court winning streak to 11 games and finished 15-0 at Toyota Center against the Eastern Conference, becoming the first team since the 2004-05 Dallas Mavericks to complete a home schedule undefeated against an entire conference.
Rockets guard James Harden posted his second career triple-double, achieving the feat by grabbing his 10th rebound just prior to the buzzer sounding at the end of the third quarter. Harden finished with 26 points and 10 assists, and along with center Dwight Howard (17 points, 13 rebounds), he led the charge toward a comfortable margin as the first half concluded.
After 76ers forward Thaddeus Young (15 points, nine rebounds) converted a layup with 8:01 to go in the second quarter to cut the deficit to one point, Harden and Howard teamed to score 15 points down the stretch of that period.
The Rockets led 63-49 at the intermission and extended that advantage to 20 points when forward Terrence Jones turned a Harden assist into a dunk with 6:37 left in the third. Jones finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
Swingman James Anderson paced Philadelphia with 30 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Anderson scored a career-high 36 points against his former team in the 76ers’ 123-117 overtime win over Houston on Nov. 13.
The Rockets matched their season high of 30 fast-break points by the close of the third quarter and finished with 34. When Harden nailed a 3-pointer at the 2:49 mark of that period, it marked the earliest the Rockets hit the 100-point threshold in a game this season.
The 76ers’ last victory came on Jan. 29, a 95-94 decision over the Boston Celtics.
NOTES: Philadelphia coach Brett Brown lauded the leadership of F Thaddeus Young, whose role changed drastically when the team traded G/F Evan Turner, C Spencer Hawes and F/C Lavoy Allen in mid-February. “I think he’s handled it like a veteran, albeit only 25 years old,” Brown said. “I think that he’s done a great job of continuing to lead us, hold a young team together, and lead by example most nights on the floor.” … After missing three games last week with a left ankle strain before bumping his knee in practice Wednesday, Rockets C Dwight Howard will log monitored minutes in the foreseeable future. … In his 17 games since the All-Star Game leading into Thursday, Rockets G James Harden averaged 27.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists while posting an exceptional shooting line of .502/.457/.853. “He’s such a great catch-and-shoot (player) that if other guys are driving and kick to him and he’s just loading it up and shooting it, that’s one of our top options,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “He’s also been making plays for everybody.”
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