PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 2 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady got hot early and the rest of his teammates joined him.

McGrady scored 21 of his 34 points in the best first half of the season for the Houston Rockets, who rolled to a 118-95 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

NBA TV highlights from
Rockets-Sixers:
300k
The Rockets had seven players in double figures and won for the fifth time in their last six road games. They swept the season series and evened the all-time series at 58-58.

The two-time defending NBA scoring champion, McGrady found himself in an early duel with three-time scoring champion Allen Iverson of Philadelphia. In the first quarter, McGrady scored 13 points and Iverson 15, with the extra bucket providing the 76ers with a 33-31 lead.

Early in the second period, McGrady made consecutive 3-pointers and a jumper before a hoop by Juwan Howard gave Houston a 46-35 lead. A three-point play and layup by Bob Sura extended the advantage to 59-45 with 4:38 to go.

"I just got off to a great start offensively. I got rolling and my jumper felt pretty good," McGrady said. "Once I saw Iverson get hot, I knew that I was going to have to step up my game. It was a great first half. My team found me in the right spots and I came through knocking down shots."

The Rockets cooled a bit but still took a 63-55 lead into intermission. They shot a sizzling 56 percent (23-of-41) from the floor in their highest-scoring first half of the season.

McGrady had a 3-pointer and two free throws early in the third period to push the lead to double digits for good. He closed the quarter with two more from the line and a 22-footer for an 88-71 lead, then drilled another 3-pointer early in the final period to let the Sixers know there would be no comeback.

"This was a pivotal game for us," McGrady said. "Coming off the win in Boston, we didn't want to let this one slip away. In the first half, we did such a great job getting a comfortable lead. When they made their run, we were able to bounce back."

"It looked like that they were playing the same basketball game to me," Iverson said. "They were hitting shots. We contested shots on them, but they were hitting shots. It was just one of those nights where everything went wrong for us."

McGrady made 10-of-21 shots, including 5-of-10 3-pointers. He also handed out nine of Houston's 35 assists as unselfishness proved contagious among his teammates.

"We just passed the ball around," McGrady said. "When they keyed on me, I just passed the ball around and found the open man. My guys were making shots. It was an unbelievable shooting performance by our team and that was key."

"He's 6-8 and he can elevate over everyone and make incredible shots," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Everybody needs somebody like him."

Howard had 14 points and a season-high 13 rebounds for the Rockets, who shot 54 percent (41-of-76) and made 14-of-25 3-pointers -- one shy of their season high -- as they posted their second-best output of the season.

"When we get on an offensive roll, we're pretty good," said Rockets guard Jon Barry, who came off the bench to score 12 points. "Any time Tracy or Yao (Ming) gets it going, the other team is going to pay more attention to them and it opens the floor for everybody else. It's a lot easier once they get going."

Iverson had 28 points and 10 assists for the Sixers (21-24), who allowed at least 110 points for the seventh time this season and were knocked out of first place in the Atlantic Division.

"We wanted to try to create some space between us and Boston, or the rest of the Atlantic, and we weren't able to do it. We tried, we just couldn't get it done," Iverson said.