Rockets-76ers: Sixers Spoil Rockets Reunion

David LloydCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2009

For the first time since January 2nd, the Rockets had their trio of superstars on the floor at the same time. 

The Rockets returned home from a three game trip Wednesday night to take on the Philadelphia 76ers.  After a loss to the Knicks prompted Rafer Alston to state that the team was playing 'selfish' basketball, the Rockets did their best to make the extra pass rather than taking it up strong and finishing the fast break.

Houston began pulling out to a 14 point lead in the second half, only to relinquish the lead down the stretch.  With just under 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Yao would pull the Rockets within two points.  Yao drew a foul on the wild shot, but failed to connect on the free throw opportunity which would have pulled the Rockets within one point of the 76ers.

The Rockets would get a stop on defense and had a chance to send the game into OT.  With five seconds left in the game, Battier inbounded the ball to Tracy McGrady.  Yao set a screen for McGrady at the top of the key, causing Dalembert to switch his assignment from Yao to McGrady.  As Tracy fired up the game winning three pointer, Dalembert got a piece of the ball causing it to get nowhere close to the basket.  Time expired, and the Rockets dropped their second straight game to an Eastern Conference opponent.

Dalembert's block was the fourteenth of the night for the Sixers, the most any team has had this year.

Rick Adelman was adamant after the game that he wants the ball in McGrady's hands in that situation.  Although, it seems with the defenders rotating assignments, McGrady could have dished it to Yao for an easy two to send the game into overtime.

One of the differences in this one was the difference in free-throw shooting between the two teams.  The Sixers capitalized on their opportunities at the line, going 20-21 from the charity stripe.  The Rockets struggled going for 11-16. 

The Rockets main goal the rest of the way will be developing chemistry among their talented trio.  The team must find a balance on the offensive side of the ball.