PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Allen Iverson played with pain in his right knee, hoping to carry an already depleted Philadelphia lineup. Instead, he was little help as the 76ers struggled to one of the worst offensive performances in franchise history.
The Sixers shot only 32 percent and tied for their second-lowest point total since the introduction of the shot clock in 1954-55. They scored 57 points at Miami in 1996.
The Sixers also scored 66 points two other times, in 1995 and 1955.
Iverson, who scored a season-low 15 points, was bothered a right knee injury that nearly kept him out of the game. But with starters Derrick Coleman (left knee strain) and Glenn Robinson (left ankle strain) out of the lineup, Iverson felt he had to play.
“I always want to play and help my team. It wasn’t a very smart move,” Iverson said. “I’m not making excuses. I missed shots I usually make, but it wasn’t me out there. Instead of helping my team right now, I’ve got to think more of helping in the future.”
Jim Jackson added 12 points for the Rockets, who won for the seventh time in nine games. Houston took a lead late in the first quarter and never trailed again, leading by as many as 15 in the fourth.
The Rockets, coming off a 101-97 double-overtime loss at Toronto on Sunday, haven’t lost two straight this season.
The Rockets shot only 33 percent, but the Sixers were even worse. Houston went 9-for-28 from 3-point range, while the Sixers missed all nine attempts.
Both teams were awful in the third quarter, when the Sixers went 2-for-18 from the floor and Houston 5-for-24.
The fans who come out from the crowd to shoot during those silly timeout promotions were more on target than anyone paid to play.
Last season, Houston limited Iverson to 9.5 points per game, his lowest total against any opponent. Iverson didn’t fare any better this time, with a 4-for-19 effort.
Iverson went nearly 19 minutes between baskets, including an 0-for-4 effort in the third quarter. He grabbed a loose ball rebound and sank a fadeaway jumper to make it 62-53, followed by a basket by Willie Green, as the Sixers cut it to seven midway through the fourth.
The Rockets took control from there as the Sixers let their frustrations get the better of them. Kenny Thomas, disappointed over a non-foul call, slammed the ball against the base of the basket and was whistled for a technical.
Then Iverson argued with the officials and was hit with a technical.
The Sixers missed almost every kind of shot. There were wild, off-balance layups, open jumpers that hit nothing but rim and four were blocked by Yao.
Yao changed a few shots also, as driving Sixers were forced to kick out to an open man—who usually missed.
Kelvin Cato grabbed 11 rebounds for Houston.
“They didn’t give us many easy shots because Yao and Cato took those away,” Philadelphia’s Eric Snow said.
The Rockets went ahead 13-12 in the first on a 3-pointer by Jackson. Mobley, who attended high school in Philadelphia, added another at the end of the quarter, making up for Houston’s 6-for-26 effort.
“It seemed like we had way more energy on defense than we had on offense,” said Houston’s Steve Francis, who had 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. “We were more organized defensively.”
Houston went 5-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half while the Sixersmissed all three attempts. The Rockets led 46-36 at halftime.
Thomas (back contusion) played for the first time since Nov. 7. … Marc Jackson had 12 points for the Sixers. … Houston’s Maurice Taylor had his suspension reduced to six games Monday by the NBA for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Taylor completed his six-game suspension against theSixers and will be allowed to play Wednesday night against Golden State.