Scola, Lowry lead Rockets past Sixers 93-87
HOUSTON — Kyle Lowry had a scraped right forearm, a sore right ankle and a smile on his face after the Houston Rockets pulled out a grinding victory over his hometown team on Wednesday night.
Lowry scored 13 points and converted two crucial three point-plays in the final two minutes of the Rockets' 93-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston's third straight victory.
The Philly native and former Villanova star took hard shots on both drives, but the points turned out to be the margin of victory in both teams' final game before the All-Star break.
"I hit the floor a few times but it doesn't matter, we got the win," said Lowry, who briefly left in the first quarter after spraining his right ankle.
Luis Scola had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Kevin Martin scored 16 points for Houston, which snapped a four-game home-court losing streak to Philadelphia.
The Rockets head into the break at 20-14, and in much better shape than last season, when they were five games under .500 at All-Star weekend.
"I'm never going to say we're overachieving, or underachieving," Lowry said. "I think we're a good team, and I think we're going where we're supposed to be going."
The 76ers, meanwhile, are limping into the break on a five-game losing streak, and their top two rebounders — Spencer Hawes (left Achilles strain) and Elton Brand (right thumb sprain) are out indefinitely.
"I would say that we'd be happy to be where we are now, when the season started," Andre Iguodala said. "We put ourselves in position to be one of the top teams in our division. We are where we want to be, but not playing the way we want to now. Every team is going through tough stretches like this."
Nikola Vucevic scored a career-high 18 points and Thaddeus Young had 15 for the 76ers, who lost for only the second time in their past nine meetings with Houston.
Philly was held without a 3-pointer for the first time this season, missing all nine attempts. The Rockets went 5 for 18 from 3-point range, with all but one of the makes coming in the second half.
The lead changed hands five times in the final five minutes before Lowry drove into Vucevic for a layup, drew the foul and made the free throw for an 86-84 lead.
Louis Williams made a free throw with 1:38 remaining, but Lowry then converted another three-point play, drawing a foul on Young this time, with 59 seconds left to make it 89-85.
Williams slipped on the baseline in front of the Houston bench, the 76ers' 13th turnover, and the Rockets hit their free throws in the last minute to preserve the victory.
"Good thing we won," Martin said. "That would've been a bad loss for us. We played with a little bit of fire."
Lowry also had eight rebounds and Chandler Parsons scored 12 points for the Rockets. Williams scored 17 points for the 76ers.
Both teams shot poorly early, and neither had scored 10 points midway through the first quarter. Lowry left four minutes into the game after stepping on Scola's foot, and he limped to the locker room with athletics trainer Keith Jones.
Houston found its shooting touch first and took a 19-16 lead. Lowry returned to the bench with Jones in the last minute of the quarter, and was back on the floor for the start of the second.
The Rockets picked up the offensive pace in the third quarter, stretching the lead to eight points. The 76ers attacked Houston's small lineup inside, answering with a 10-0 run that gave them a 56-54 lead.
Houston went cold late in the third quarter, and mustered only 16 points on 7-for-17 shooting. The 76ers scored 14 of their 24 third-quarter points in the paint and led 65-61 heading to the fourth.
Martin swished back-to-back 3-pointers near the nine-minute mark to keep Houston within three. After Thaddeus Young scored inside, Martin hit another 3 and Patrick Patterson scored to tie it at 75-all.
Notes: The Rockets have won 24 consecutive games when holding their opponent to less than 90 points. ... Lowry missed his first free-throw attempt, after making his previous 25. ... The 76ers dropped to 7-2 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season. ... Philly coach Doug Collins couldn't give a timetable for Hawes' return from a left Achilles strain. Collins said Hawes will visit a doctor in Los Angeles during the All-Star break and wear a protective boot. -- (AP)