Rookies KJ Martin (23 points, 10 rebounds), Anthony Lamb (22 points, 6 rebounds), and Armoni Brooks (20 points, 6-of-14 on 3-pointers) each set career-high scoring totals for the Houston Rockets in Wednesday’s 135-115 home loss (box score) to the Philadelphia 76ers at Toyota Center.
Veteran big man Kelly Olynyk led the Rockets with a team-high 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists, while the 76ers were paced by All-Star center Joel Embiid — who had game-high totals of 34 points and 12 rebounds in just 25 minutes. The Sixers (45-21) have the top record in the Eastern Conference, while the Rockets (16-50) remain in the NBA cellar.
The Rockets entered Wednesday’s game with only eight active players due to widespread roster injuries and issues with the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and they ended with even less due to yet another injury suffered by a key player. Second-year guard Kevin Porter Jr. limped off the court and to the locker room during the third quarter, and the Rockets ruled him out almost immediately, citing a left ankle sprain.
Prior to leaving, Porter tallied 16 points and 5 assists in just 23 minutes. Head coach Stephen Silas said postgame that he did not yet have an update on Porter’s status, though with a back-to-back looming on Friday and Saturday in Milwaukee and Utah, it would seem unlikely that Houston plays Porter in both ends, at a bare minimum. Other players to have suffered ankle sprains in recent weeks have included Danuel House Jr. and DJ Augustin, and each missed several weeks after the injury.
Augustin was dressed out and listed as active so that Houston would meet the NBA’s minimum requirement of eight players to play, but Silas did not use him. After Porter went out, the Rockets effectively had only six available players for the game’s duration — Olynyk, Brooks, Lamb, Martin, Avery Bradley, and DaQuan Jeffries. Martin, a 20-year-old rookie, is the lone member of those six to have joined Houston prior to March. For Silas and the Rockets, that underscores the historic nature of this season’s never-ending wave of injury losses and roster changes.
Earlier Wednesday, Houston reportedly reached a 10-day contract agreement with young guard Khyri Thomas. Given Porter’s new injury, the potential availability of Thomas could become even more important as the Rockets look to navigate their final six games of the season.
See below for a compilation of Wednesday’s highlights, analysis, and postgame reaction. Houston returns to action on Friday night in Milwaukee, with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Central.