PHILADELPHIA, April 4 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson has seen enough of the Houston Rockets this season.

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Iverson missed his last 16 shots and was limited to single digits as the Philadelphia 76ers managed just 32 points in the second half of an 88-79 loss to the playoff-hungry Houston Rockets.

Iverson scored a career-high 58 points in an overtime win over Houston last season. But he was unable to get untracked against the Rockets this season as he was shut down twice in as many games.

In a 97-72 loss at Houston on December 7, Iverson was limited to 11 points on 5-of-19 shooting while committing nine turnovers. Bothered by bursitis in his left knee, he was even worse in this one, at least when it came to shooting the ball.

The three-time scoring champion finished with eight points, failing to reach double figures for the second time in the last nine games. He did not score over the final three quarters, missing his last 16 shots to go 4-of-23 from the field.

"I try as hard as I can to play the iron man role. Sometimes you can't do it," Iverson said. "I talked with my wife this morning about not playing and she said that I shouldn't. I went out there anyway being stubborn about the whole thing, thinking it was going to be all right. But, I wasn't me and that's frustrating."

One of the toughest players in the NBA despite his 165-pound frame, Iverson indicated he may need some rest for his ailing knee, which he had drained before the game. He has not missed a game this season.

"It's something that I don't want to go through again if I can help it," he said.

Already at a size disadvantage facing 7-5 rookie center Yao Ming and having lost Keith Van Horn to a strained foot tendon late in the first quarter, the 76ers could not withstand Iverson's poor performance.

They watched a 13-point lead early in the third quarter evaporate, then managed just one basket over the first seven minutes of the final period. In the second half, Philadelphia made just 10-of-41 shots (24 percent).

"Naturally, if Allen is missing 16 straight, you don't have Keith Van Horn and (Aaron) McKie is hurting, you're going to be in deep trouble," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "(Iverson) is such a big part of our team. Even if he makes some shots, you have to help him out. We did not have anybody that seemed to be able to make shots."

Philadelphia native Cuttino Mobley had the unenviable task of stopping Iverson and did an outstanding job. He was scoreless in the first half but finished with 12 points.

"I tried to stay in front of him and not go for the pump fakes," Mobley said. "When he tried to move into me, he was moving into nothing at all, and it threw him off balance. He is a hard player to guard."

"Cuttino Mobley did the greatest job I've ever seen on Allen Iverson," Rockets acting coach Larry Smith said. "I think it was a personal challange. He said, 'Coach, I'll take him.' He came in and battled him, and made it tough on him all night long."

Yao had 20 points and 13 rebounds and James Posey added 19 and 12 for the Rockets (39-37), who moved within one game of Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference. Houston has not made the playoffs since 1999.

"We're still in the thick of things," Posey said. This is a big first step - a road win. We need to build on it. If we do that, we should be right there."

Former Rocket Kenny Thomas had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Eric Snow scored 17 points for the playoff-bound Sixers, who have lost three of their last four home games. They fell 1 1/2 games behind first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.

"They did a good job at defending us and we did a bad job of settling," Brown said. "We took too many quick outside shots."

"Coach was telling me o go to the basket and not settle for a lot of jumpers and I wanted to tell him so bad that I just couldn't," Iverson said. "I just thought my short-range game would get me over but I couldn't throw a rock in the ocean."

A jumper by Snow gave gave Philadelphia a 51-38 lead early in the third quarter, but with Iverson clanging away, Houston got back in the game. Steve Francis scored 11 of his 18 points in the period, which ended with the Sixers holding a 64-63 edge.

Mobley used a layup and turnaround jumper to frame a 10-0 burst that opened the fourth quarter and gave the Rockets the lead for good. Snow's jumper at the 6:41 mark was the first basket of the period for the Sixers.

"I can't keep emphasizing how good our defense was tonight," Smith said. "We locked them down."

A layup by Greg Buckner cut the deficit to 79-72 with 4:52 remaining, but Posey and Mobley sank 3-pointers to effectively seal it with 3 1/2 minutes to go.

Maurice Taylor had 11 rebounds and Eddie Griffin added nine and nine points for the Rockets, who held a 56-42 advantage on the glass. Houston shot 40 percent (32-of-80) but limited Philadelphia to less than 34 percent (29-of-86).

Philadelphia had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Van Horn, Philadelphia's second-leading scorer, hurt himself with 1:22 left in the first quarter. He hobbled to the locker room and underwent X-rays, which were negative. An MRI also revealed a bone bruise, and Van Horn is day-to-day.