With a smile on his face, Lou Williams said the way to keep 76ers rookie Marreese Speights interested is to feed him a dunk.
In last night's 104-96 win over the Houston Rockets at the Wachovia Center, Williams and Speights combined for more than just tongue-in-cheek banter. They teamed up for 30 points.
"You've got to keep Marreese interested," Williams said of his rookie teammate. "And the way you do that is get him a dunk. After you do that, he'll block shots and he'll rebound."
Speights had 15 points (six of which came off dunks), eight rebounds and four blocked shots. One of those dunks was an important put-back slam with 1 minute, 39 seconds left. Williams had 15 points and eight assists.
But the number with a Texas-size margin was fastbreak points: The Sixers outscored the Rockets, 29-9.
Was that the best the Sixers can run?
"That was pretty good," coach Tony DiLeo said.
Actually, the 29 fastbreak points were a season high.
It was the usual Sixers' high-flying show, led by Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Speights, that eventually broke the plodding Rockets and big man Yao Ming.
Even with that disparity, the Sixers never allowed the 14,858 in attendance to rest their Thunderstix.
In the third, the Sixers led by 11. The lead was quickly five. In the fourth, they led by 15, but that edge sank to four in a hurry. The hosts would miss a free throw, of which they missed 16, and the Rockets would hit a three, of which they hit five.
But considering how things have gone lately for the Sixers, nothing mattered other than walking off the court with a victory.
Before the game, the Sixers had lost six of their last seven and finished a six-game road trip with a 1-5 record. After the win over Houston, a top-tier Western Conference team, they are 14-20.
The Rockets are 21-15. They are 1-4 in their last five games and 10-11 on the road this season.
Iguodala led the way with 28 points. Argentina native Luis Scola paced the Rockets with 18.
The Sixers had not played at home since Dec. 20, a loss to the Indiana Pacers. DiLeo said at the shoot-around yesterday morning he was worried that his guys were still gassed from their 10-day Western swing.
"I was a little scared because we were sluggish," DiLeo said. "They must have gotten a good rest [yesterday] afternoon."
"I could see that at shoot-around," Iguodala agreed. "Guys were tired, guys were still going to bed at 5 a.m. from West Coast time."
So what changed from morning to evening?
"Went home and slept for a few hours," Iguodala said. "Although my phone kept ringing."