For Sixers, overtime win over Rockets a tankless job

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sixers' James Anderson (right), Thaddeus Young double-team Rockets' Dwight Howard during OT.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sixers' James Anderson (right), Thaddeus Young double-team Rockets' Dwight Howard during OT.
Posted: November 15, 2013

APPARENTLY, the company memo about tanking the season was not passed on to the Sixers’ players.

With their star rookie and floor general Michael Carter-Williams sitting out with an injured left foot, it was another chance for the Sixers to easily add another pingpong ball to their NBA draft-lottery chances, facing a Houston Rockets team sans James Harden (bruised left foot) but a team still able to put Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and, of course, Dwight Howard on the floor.

But this 2013-14 Sixers team is a resilient bunch, giving rookie coach Brett Brown everything it has every night.

And last night, James Anderson and Tony Wroten played like superstars, veterans Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes came up with the big plays late in the game, and the Sixers somehow outlasted the Rockets in overtime, 123-117.

When asked whether he was surprised his team is now 5-4, a straight-faced Brown replied, without missing a beat, “Yes.”

When you get a career-high 36 points from Anderson and a triple-double (18 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) from Wroten in his first NBA start, you can smile.

Anderson was spectacular, scoring 15 points in a perfect first half, hitting all six of his shots, including a trio of threes. He hit a three with 6.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

Originally drafted by San Antonio in 2010, Anderson was well known to Brown. The coach knew that Anderson, from his college days at Oklahoma State, was a scorer. And says that Anderson, after 4 years in the league, is starting to become that same kind of player in the NBA.

“He’s been around me when I was in San Antonio,” Anderson said, “and he knew that I can compete and what I could do when I was there. He gave me an opportunity to do it and I think it’s the right time.”

His three at the end of regulation, one of six he canned, came at the right time and was set up, appropriately, by Wroten.

“Out of the timeout I told him, ‘I’m going to come off the screen and I’m going to hit you in the corner,’ ” said Wroten, in only his second NBA season. “But there was a player who denied him, so he wasn’t open. I kept probing, and I ran out of options. [But] he’s hot, so I threw it up to him, and that’s how he caught it.”

Anderson hit the shot over Lin, who ended the night with nine threes of his own and 34 points.

“We went back and forth the whole night,” Anderson said of Lin. “It definitely felt good.

“And I was able to get the last laugh.”

The Sixers enjoyed a 60-57 lead at the half, but that quickly disappeared thanks to Lin. He hit three straight treys to give Houston a 72-64 lead. The margin reached 90-80 by the end of the third quarter as the Rockets hit six shots from beyond the arc.

When Patrick Beverly hit a driving layup off a Turner turnover (one of seven Sixers turnovers in the quarter) the lead was 100-91 with 5:27 left. Then the Rockets went cold, scoring only one more basket in regulation. That’s when the veterans took over. Hawes hit a three, Anderson matched it, and Young hit a turnaround jumper off a Wroten feed. Wroten then scored on a drive and the game was suddenly tied at 103. The Rockets led, 106-103, before Anderson dialed long distance.

In the overtime, the Sixers were down, 112-111, following another Lin three. But with 34.9 seconds left, Hawes followed a Turner miss with a dunk and the Sixers, up 115-114, never trailed again.

Young stripped Howard on the baseline, the Sixers hit six straight foul shots and, just like that, victory was theirs.

For one night, a night after watching Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins live up to their predraft hype, tanking to play for that 18-year-old franchise player was an afterthought.

The Sixers announced that veteran college coach Rod Baker will be the coach of the first-year 87ers of the NBA Development League ... Michael Carter-Williams was listed day to day with a “left foot arch bruise” ... The Sixers will not hold practice today.

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