HOUSTON, TX – For the second time in as many weeks, the 76ers and Houston Rockets played down to the wire.
In Round 2, however, the Sixers made sure to shut the door.
With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid leading the way, and combining for a string of crucial baskets in the final two minutes of play, the Sixers fought their way to a 115-107 victory at Toyta Center Monday night.
With the win, the Sixers swept their two-game road trip to Texas, marking the first time the team won consecutive contests in the Lone Star State since 2001.
That Simmons and Embiid headlined the Sixers’ box score was nothing new. Both blue-chippers stuffed Monday’s stat sheet, Simmons doing so with a career-high 24 points. He added 7 rebounds and 9 assists as well.
Embiid churned 22 points for his third 20-point showing in a row, while delivering 9 boards and 5 dimes.
Similarly to last Wednesday’s pairing at The Center, which Houston took on an Eric Gordon 3-pointer at the buzzer, Monday’s re-match at Toyota Center was spirited, and featured a dramatic finish.
Ahead by 10 points with just under 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Sixers witnessed the Rockets surge back into contention on the strength of a 12-3 spurt that cut the Sixers’ lead to 106-105.
On the Sixers’ next trip down the floor, Embiid deposited a hook shot to establish a sliver of breathing room. Then, after a missed PJ Tucker three, Embiid snared a pivotal rebound, gave the ball to Simmons, who flew down the floor and flushed home two.
The Sixers would tack on three more points before Houston scored again to ensure the win.
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The Sixers’ two-game swing through the Lone Star State was particularly productive for second year wing man Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. His string of 11 straight points helped key his club’s potent first quarter.
Nevermind the fact it will be brief, for the first time this season, the Sixers will find themselves on a homestand, as they play the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday in what marks the first of two consecutive contests at The Center. Heading into action Monday, Atlanta was tied with Dallas for the lowest winning percentage in the NBA. The Sixers will welcome Indiana Friday, then set out for five straight Western Conference road games.