While all Sixers fans know there are no moral victories, not all losses are created equal. For the fourth time in as many games the Sixers played hard and held a fourth quarter lead only to see it taken away in the final minutes. On a night where the Sixers set the new record for longest losing streak by a major north american sports team with 27 straight, the Sixers came out competitive and gave the Houston Rockets trouble for most of the second half.
The Sixers lost a heartbreaker of a game to James Harden and the Houston Rockets 116-114. After a sloppy first half for the Sixers, they came back to take the lead 97-96 in the fourth quarter. Houston's late game missed free throws, turnovers, and missed shots allowed the Sixers to have hope all the way to their last possession.
With Nerlens Noel out with knee soreness and the video surfacing of Jahlil Okafor involved in a dispute outside of a Boston nightclub, the team looked to be in some disarray.
Philadelphia once again got off to a slow start, scoring 19 points in the first quarter to Houston's 30. After Jahlil Okafor's jumper from the right baseline, the Sixer's offense struggled for the rest of the first half. Often the Sixers struggled to get into their offensive sets leading to rushed shots with the shot clock running down. Without Nerlens Noel's presence, Robert Covington was the Sixers defensive star of the first half with six steals and a block in the first half.
After the break the Sixers came out and showed more of the same, never letting the Rockets get too far ahead but never getting over the hump. A great defensive effort at the end of the third quarter spilled over into the fourth and two key threes by Nik Stauskas and Hollis Thompson cut the Rocket's lead to two. The Sixer's first lead of the night came shortly after on a TJ McConnell jumper over Dwight Howard to make the score 97-96 Sixers. The largest lead of the night was 104-97 on Jerami Grant's thundering dunk off of a McConnell steal.
However James Harden would not allow Houston to give away a game to Philadelphia finishing with 50 points, one shy of his career high of 51. Although a few ill-timed missed free throws brought the game into question, Harden's late game performance at the stripe and 3-point line allowed Houston to pull out the win.
The Sixers did a good job of keeping Harden off the foul line early but found him there much more often in the second half only missing four of his 20 foul shots for the game.
Jahlil Okafor was largely ineffective for most of the game, finding himself on the bench for most of the second half. The highlight of his four minutes of the fourth quarter was a timely bucket over Dwight Howard to keep the Sixers competitive. He finished with 11 points on 4-12 shooting and six rebounds.
Philadelphia looks to avoid tying a NBA record 0-18 start of the 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets when they are back in action in Memphis on Sunday Nov. 29th against Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies.