The Sixers are starting to set higher goals.
Jrue Holiday scored 20 points, Andre Iguodala earned his fifth career triple-double and Philadelphia rallied from an early 12-point deficit to go into the All-Star break with a 27-29 record. Philly was 27-55 last year.
"We have to start believing that we're a really good team," said Iguodala, who had 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. "The last 40 games, we've shown that we can compete with anybody. We've just got to stay consistent and beat the teams we're supposed to [beat]. That's the biggest thing."
Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young scored 19 points apiece, and Spencer Hawes had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Sixers, who shot 55 percent (48 of 87) from the field and had a 50-40 rebounding edge.
Philly is 24-16 since a 3-13 start under first-year coach Doug Collins. The Sixers have the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference heading into All-Star weekend.
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"Just to feel the energy in the locker room after the game, the guys were really happy and that makes me feel good," Collins said. "I don't know that I would see this joy this year with this group, the way we started. But they deserve all the credit in the world. These guys, they're really pros, I'm really proud of them."
The Sixers have won six of their last nine games and face three of the worst teams in the East - Washington, Detroit and Cleveland - immediately after the break.
"We've got our minds on something else, and that's the playoffs," Holiday said. "To start off 3-13 and kick butt from there on, it's great for us."
Kyle Lowry scored a career-high 36 points and Luis Scola added 26 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets. Lowry went 15 for 18 from the field, including a career-high six 3-pointers.
But Houston leading scorer Kevin Martin scored only nine points on 3-for-12 shooting and made only two 3-pointers. Patrick Patterson was the only other Rocket in double-figures, scoring 10.
Houston coach Rick Adelman was more upset with Houston's defense than he was about the lack of offensive balance.
"If we are going to do anything, guys who scored points for us and everything else, they've all got to take some pride at the other end," Adelman said. "This team [Philly] shot 55 percent and that's not good enough to win games in this league."
The Rockets hit four 3-pointers in the first five minutes and jumped to an 18-6 lead. The Sixers answered with a 12-0 run, capped by Elton Brand's dunk at the end of a fast break. Brand had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Lowry sank his third 3 and Houston's sixth early in the second quarter. The Rockets came into the game ranked sixth in 3-pointers made this season (449).
Philadelphia hit seven of its first nine shots in the second quarter, and the Sixers moved ahead. Iguodala banked in a shot from near midcourt at the halftime buzzer to put Philadelphia up 55-52.
The Sixers shot 61.5 percent (24 of 39) from the field in the first half. Houston stayed closed by going 8 for 19 from 3-point range in the half.
But the Rockets went 1 for 13 from long range in the second half, while the Sixers continued to shoot well and stretched their lead.
Late in the third quarter, Evan Turner scored in the lane, then finished a fast break with a layup to put the Sixers up 79-71, their biggest lead to that point.
"We have a lot of guys who can score, a lot of guys who attack once they get it," Iguodala said.
Scola scored 14 of Houston's 26 points in the third, but the Rockets went 0 for 5 from 3-point range to trail 86-78 heading to the fourth.
Williams scored twice before Young ended another Philly fast break with a one-handed dunk to make it 99-88 with 5 minutes left.
"We just didn't guard them all night long," Adelman said. "We just never made enough stops in the last three quarters."
Scola scored inside and Lowry cut inside for two layups to trim Houston's deficit to five. The Sixers responded with a clinching 8-2 spurt, capped by Holiday's pull-up jumper with 1:07 left.
The 76ers have won six of the last seven meetings with Houston. ... Hawes has five double-doubles this season. He twisted his ankle grabbing a rebound late in the third quarter, limped off the court, and did not return. ... 76ers C/F Tony Battie was inactive for the fourth straight game with a wrist sprain. ... Rockets G Courtney Lee, who scored 22 points in Monday's win over Denver, sat out with pneumonia. ... The Rockets have lost three of their last five home games.