Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/7

Game 1: Saturday, December 7th
Game 2: Friday, April 4th

76ers 72

(15-6, 5-6 away)

Rockets 97


    Coverage: CSN

    7:30 PM ET, December 7, 2002

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHI 23 17 22 1072
    HOU 23 25 23 2697

    Top Performers

    Phi: E. Snow 10 Pts, 3 Reb, 7 Ast

    Hou: Y. Ming 18 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Sixers lose second straight after eight wins in a row

    HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets refused to let Allen Iverson beat them.

    Steve Francis

    Steve Francis led the Rockets with 20 points Saturday.

    Steve Francis scored eight of his 20 points in a decisive fourth-quarter run as the Rockets held Iverson to 11 points in a 97-72 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

    ``Iverson averages 30 points a game and he can turn a game faster than anyone. Containing him was our focus on defense and we were fortunate to do it,'' Houston's Cuttino Mobley said.

    Iverson was 5-of-19 from the field and was held 18 points below his season average. He also had nine turnovers, one short of his career high.

    ``I said to the team that I couldn't believe that I was struggling like I was,'' Iverson said. ``After so many successful games you are going to have these games now and then. As a pro, you have to deal with it and get it out of your system. In my career, I've been able to deal with it.''

    Philadelphia coach Larry Brown was critical of his team's play.

    ``We played like a bunch of strangers. We didn't lose the game tonight because of Allen's play, I'm not concerned at all with Allen,'' Brown said. ``He's trying hard and giving effort, but you have to have a team to help you out.''

    Yao Ming had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Houston, which used a 22-6 run that lasted most of the first nine minutes of the final period. The victory was Houston's sixth straight at home, where the Rockets are 7-1 and off to their best start since the 1996-97 season.

    ``I think passing is one of the main reasons tonight we were able to get the win,'' Yao said. ``I also was able to get a lot of long rebounds. A lot of those have been luck, but tonight they led to some big points.

    Mobley added 16 points, Kenny Thomas 14 and Glen Rice 10 for the Rockets.

    Keith Van Horn scored 15 points, and Eric Snow and Derrick Coleman had 10 each for Philadelphia, which lost its second game in a row after winning eight straight.

    Houston led by nine when its fourth-quarter scoring spree began with two baskets by Thomas. The Sixers were unable to respond, after Francis scored five straight points to give the Rockets an 82-65 advantage with 7:44 left.

    Rice scored 10 points in the first 5:47 to spark Houston to a 15-10 lead, before Philadelphia tied it 23-23, going into the second period.

    Houston took a 41-33 with 4:21 left in the half after eight straight points by Mobley. The Rockets scored the last seven points of the half to lead 48-40.

    A basket by Van Horn cut the Sixers' deficit to 52-49 with 8:28 left in the third period, but Houston went on an 8-2 run to make it 60-51. The Rockets led 71-65 at the end of the third.

    Game notes

    Houston activated Mobley from the injured list Saturday and placed guard Tito Maddox on the injured list with a left foot plantar fasciitis. ... The Rockets reserves have scored over 20 points in 11 of their last 12 games, outscoring their opponents in eight of those. ... The Sixers are 4-6 when they have trailed by 10 or more. ... Iverson has scored in double-figures in 141 straight games ... Philadelphia is 4-1 in games decided three points or less ... Yao recorded his third straight double-double.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 72 97
    FGM-FGA 29-77 (.377) 38-77 (.494)
    3PM-3PA 2-10 (.200) 8-15 (.533)
    FTM-FTA 12-18 (.667) 13-19 (.684)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-35 13-43
    Assists 19 27
    Turnovers 22 21
    Steals 8 10
    Blocks 2 4
    Fast Break Points 4 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 19 (3/0)

    Top Performers

    Eric Snow Snow
    Points: 10
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 18
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1