After spending most of the last three weeks on the road, the struggling Philadelphia 76ers are hoping to make the most of a heavy slate of home games.
The 76ers try to avoid losing six straight for the first time in three seasons as they open a stretch of 12 of 13 at home Saturday night against a Houston Rockets team coming off back-to-back losses.
Philadelphia (15-22) enters the weekend having dropped 13 of 16, 12 of which came in opposing arenas. The 76ers, though, would appear to have a good chance to get things turned around with only one road game scheduled through Feb. 11. They've gone 9-8 on their own court compared to 6-14 on the road.
"Coming back home, getting a little rest, it gives us an opportunity to find ourselves," center Spencer Hawes said. "We have to look at this chance here at home as a great option for us to get right back in the mix."
Philadelphia, which has averaged 84.2 points and been outscored by an average of 18.2 during its five-game skid, is coming off Wednesday's 90-72 loss at Toronto. Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young scored 16 points apiece but the 76ers shot 39.2 percent and posted their lowest scoring output of the season.
"I think what happens when you get a little fatigued the ball sticks, guys don't move," coach Doug Collins said. "I think as much as anything as a basketball player you struggle to score the ball, that's probably as deflating as anything and then you throw in fatigue, you throw in the schedule, there's no question it all rolls together."
Despite its struggles, Philadelphia, which hasn't dropped six straight since March 30-April 9, 2010, sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference - four games behind Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot.
"As poorly as we've played and as bad as the results have been, we're not that far out of it," Hawes added. "You get one game, you get two and then you start rolling. ... I think we have to get our defensive identity back and start playing together on both ends, start having fun again."
The 76ers will likely need to clamp down with Houston (21-16) coming to town. The Rockets, averaging 105.6 points to rank second in the league, shot 56.0 percent to run away from Philadelphia in a 125-103 victory Dec. 19.
Houston, though, hasn't been able to find its groove on the first two stops of its three-game trek. Two nights after being limited to their fewest points this season in an 88-79 loss at New Orleans, the Rockets went a season-worst 12 for 29 (41.4 percent) from the free-throw line Friday in a 103-91 defeat at Boston.
"That's the second game in a row where we haven't shot well, haven't moved it really well," said coach Kevin McHale, whose team hasn't dropped three straight since Dec. 7-10. "We've got a lot of stuff we've got to clean up. We've got to hit the open man, make the extra pass - just clean it up a little bit."
McHale is surely at least partly referring to James Harden's sloppy play. Harden turned the ball over six times Friday after committing a career worst-tying seven against the Hornets. He's averaging 3.7 turnovers, just behind Holiday's league-worst mark of 3.8.
Harden, who had 24 points against the Celtics, scored 33 against Philadelphia last month. Holiday missed that game due to a sprained left foot.
Friday's loss dropped the Rockets to 14-3 against East opponents.
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