The Houston Rockets looked like they might have turned a corner when they put together their longest win streak of the season. After their run was snapped in their last outing, first-year Rockets coach Rick Adelman remained unconvinced.
Adelman's club will try to get back on track and win for the sixth time in seven games as they host the struggling Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
Houston (20-18) won five straight games Jan. 4-11 to match its longest win streak since it closed the 2004-05 season with seven consecutive victories.
The Rockets beat Eastern Conference contenders Orlando and Washington during the run, but also took advantage of two meetings with slumping New York and one with league-worst Minnesota.
"Our team hasn't proven anything yet," Adelman told the Rockets' official Web site. "We're a 20-18 team. If we want to move up with the playoff teams, we have to keep winning games."
That didn't happen on Sunday, when Houston had its streak snapped with an 87-82 loss to New Orleans. The Rockets outscored the Hornets 24-12 in the third quarter to take control of the game, but were outscored 29-19 in the fourth to fall to 3-6 against Southwest Division rivals.
Adelman knows that his team's response to its first loss since Jan. 2 will be crucial to how the Rockets rebound from what has been a disappointing first half of the season.
"We're 38 games into it," Adelman said. "We had a nice little run and I was disappointed in how we finished (against the Hornets). But now, this team has to understand that we had a disappointing game, but we have to get on another run. You got to keep moving forward. You can't take five steps forward and then lose three in a row. That's the challenge right now."
Rockets center Yao Ming had 30 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots Sunday, but committed two of his six turnovers in the closing minutes of the game. Adelman contends that Yao was fouled while having the ball stripped from his hands - an issue that Yao's coaches have complained about since he began playing in the NBA in 2002.
"A superstar is supposed to get calls and he doesn't get the calls," Adelman said. "Simple as that."
Yao and the Rockets will try to bounce back against the 76ers (14-24), who have lost a season-high seven straight games. They haven't dropped eight in a row since a 12-game skid last winter that marked the end of Allen Iverson's career with Philadelphia.
The Sixers had a five-point, fourth-quarter lead Monday against San Antonio, but the Spurs pulled away with a 23-9 run and the Sixers fell 89-82.
"We usually go out on the floor and play hard night-in and night-out. It's a shame that they haven't been rewarded for their efforts," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. "At some point it's going to turn for us."
The Rockets won both their meetings with the 76ers last season by a combined 71 points. Philadelphia, however, won 100-88 in the teams' first meeting of this season Dec. 10.
Yao was held to 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting in that game, while Andre Miller had 17 points and 12 assists for the Sixers.
Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited