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Sixers hold on for a rare win over Rockets

Ben Simmons led the team with 24 points, Joel Embiid had 22, and Amir Johnson, Dario Saric, and Timothe Luwawu- Cabarrot turned in season-best performances.

Joel Embiid scored 22 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists in Monday night’s win over Houston.
Joel Embiid scored 22 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists in Monday night’s win over Houston.Read moreEric Christian Smith / AP Photo

HOUSTON — The 76ers finally toppled the obstacle known as the Houston Rockets.

A 115-107 decision at the Toyota Center on Monday marked the Sixers' first victory over the Rockets since Nov. 13, 2013. It was their first win in Houston since Feb. 16, 2011.

[Box score and play-by-play]

Before that, the Sixers (3-4) had lost six games at the Toyota Center and eight overall. And they have lost 10 of the last 12 overall meetings in the series.

This also marked the first time they beat the Mavericks and Rockets on the same road trip since the 2000-01 season.

But …

"You walk out of the building certainly not satisfied," said Sixers coach Brett Brown, whose squad held the Rockets to 39.8 shooting. "I think the defense is what ended up getting us the win. We are always mindful of how can we execute well. We didn't do that night."

The Sixers' 21 turnovers — seven in the fourth quarter — helped the Rockets (5-3) get back into what had been a lopsided game. One of those fourth-quarter giveaways came on a shot-clock violation, the team's second of the game.

"Honestly, you truly leave greedy," Brown said. "We want more."

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid provided just enough while showing why they are regarded as one of the league's top young duos. They helped the Sixers avoid another disastrous fourth-quarter collapse.

The Sixers had a 14-point lead with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but the Rockets closed the gap to one point, 106-105, on a pair of foul shots by James Harden with 3 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the fourth.

Embiid and Simmons responded with back-to-back baskets to give the Sixers a 110-105 cushion with 2:01 left.

"We tried to lock in as best as we could," Simmons said.

Simmons made a foul shot to make it a six-point game with 37 seconds remaining. The Sixers extended their lead to eight points on a pair of foul shots by Jerryd Bayless with 26.6 to play.

Simmons paced the Sixers with 24 points to go with nine assists, seven rebounds, and five turnovers. Eight of his points came in the fourth quarter. Embiid finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals in 24 minutes, 57 seconds. He joined Fat Lever (Jan. 11, 1990) of Denver and Paul Gasol (Dec. 7, 2015) of the Bulls as the only players to post those numbers in 25 or fewer minutes.

Dario Saric added a season-high 14 points in his second start of the season. The power forward got the start Monday and in Saturday's win in Dallas because guard J.J. Redick missed both games with lower-back tightness. So Saric joined Robert Covington, Embiid, Bayless, and Simmons in the starting lineup.

As in the game against the Mavs, Saric played much better than when he came off the bench in the first five games. He looked more relaxed and had a better idea of his role.

Meanwhile, Timothe Luwawu- Cabarrot, Amir Johnson, and T.J. McConnell all had solid performances in reserve roles.

Luwawu-Cabarrot finished with a season-high 17 points. Eleven of them came in the first half. Johnson recorded his first double-double as a Sixer. A free-agent acquisition this summer, the backup center had season highs of 12 points and 10 rebounds. McConnell added 11 points and five assists. He made all three of his three-point shots.

Bayless was the Sixers' other double-digit scorer with 10 points.

Harden finished with a game-high 29 points. Eric Gordon had 25, while Clint Capela had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets.

The Sixers had to feel good about getting this victory, especially after how they lost to Houston at home Wednesday.

Back then, they had an eight-point lead over the Rockets with 3:05 left. But they were ultimately left heartbroken after Gordon's three-pointer at the buzzer gave the Rockets a 105-104 victory. The Sixers basically beat themselves, missing their final four shots and committing three turnovers in the final 3:04.