((SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets had much more difficulty than expected getting win No. 8 on Friday against lowly Philadelphia, and they'll hope to avoid that trap Sunday night when they visit Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
James Harden made a go-ahead layup with nine seconds remaining, and Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer to end a surprisingly tight contest.
The Rockets prevailed 88-87 one night after the Sixers lost by 53 in Dallas.
"It was tough for all of us," said Harden. "Last year, we probably would have lost this game. This year, we focus on our defense."
The Sixers led 87-84 after a Tony Wroten 3-pointer and had the ball with under 40 seconds to play, but turnovers on consecutive possessions -- their 25th and 26th of the night -- doomed their chances for an upset.
Harden made two free throws to pull the Rockets within one, 87-86, then used a high screen from Dwight Howard to drive for the eventual winning basket.
Carter-Williams' miss from just above the right elbow sent the Sixers to 0-9.
Harden finished with 35 points, and Howard totaled 21 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks for Houston, which has won 18 straight home games against Eastern Conference foes.
The Rockets' record streak of making 10 of more 3-pointers to start a season came to an end, as they made just 7-of-34. They did shoot 19 more free throws than the Sixers.
Houston will finish this quick road trip with a huge game Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Thunder are sputtering, as expected, without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Andre Roberson and Perry Jones are still out with injuries as the Thunder fell to the Detroit Pistons, 96-89, in overtime at home Friday night.
Jeremy Lamb notched the first double-double of his career with 24 points and 10 rebounds, but the Thunder failed to build on a 15-point comeback win at Boston Wednesday night.
Reggie Jackson had 20 points and 12 assists, and Serge Ibaka chipped in 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Oklahoma City went 12-of-36 from 3-point range and made just 1-of-6 from the foul line.
"We obviously have to put ourselves in a better position to get the line, but give them credit. They played good defense and made us take a lot of 3s," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
The Thunder claimed three of four last season against the Rockets. Oklahoma City has won three in a row as the host in this series and is 7-1 in its last eight at home versus Houston in the regular season.