The 76ers and Rockets played most of their regulars for about the first 2 1/2 quarters even though both teams already were locked into playoff matchups, making Friday night’s game meaningless.
The Rockets were playing without All-Star guard Russell Westbrook, who is expected to miss at least the start of the playoffs with a strained right quadriceps. The 76ers continue to play without Ben Simmons, who is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his left knee Monday.
“I think for us it was important to play, to continue to play,” 76ers forward Al Horford said. “I know some teams probably didn’t play their (main) guys and things like that, but for us, we’re missing Ben. The starting lineup was shaken up. We haven’t really played with each other that much, so it was very beneficial for us to go out there today and to continue to build hat chemistry.”
Philadelphia begins an Eastern Conference first-round series with the Boston Celtics on Monday. Houston is facing the Oklahoma City Thunder in a Western Conference series starting Tuesday.
The 76ers’ starting lineup included All-Star centre Joel Embiid, who injured his right hand Wednesday in a loss to the Toronto Raptors. Embiid played 22 minutes and scored 14 points.
“We clearly need a healthy Joel Embiid,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “Nobody denies that. We can’t dismiss that. We need a healthy Joel Embiid, to make the run that we need to make.”
Alec Burks added 16 points, Raul Neto with 14, Furkan Korkmaz with 12, Shake Milton with 11 and Al Horford and Mike Scott with 10 each.
James Harden had 27 points and 10 assists for Houston. Jeff Green scored 17 points, Eric Gordon had 13 and Bruno Cabocio added 11.
The 76ers went on a 17-2 run late in the first quarter and owned a 39-26 lead at the end of the period. The Rockets scored the first five points of the second quarter to cut the margin to eight, but Philadelphia answered with a 13-0 run and led 71-47 at halftime.
After Houston got within 11 points, Philadelphia went on a 19-2 spurt late in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
“It is what it is today,” Rockets coach MIke D’Antoni said. “I get it. It didn’t mean a whole lot. We’ll be ready Tuesday.”
76ers: The reserves combined for 76 points. This marked the third straight game that Philadelphia got at least 50 points from its bench. Philadelphia’s bench has scored 196 points over those three games.
Rockets: D’Antoni isn’t putting a timetable on when Westbrook might be ready to return to action. “We just don’t know,” D’Antoni said before Friday’s game. “He’ll be re-evaluated probably every other day. We’ll see where he is. Time will tell. … Hopefully it’s sooner than later. Obviously we have to hold serve until we get him back.”
The 76ers start their best-of-7 series with Boston on Monday.
The Rockets begin their series with Oklahoma City on Tuesday.