HOUSTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Just when it looked like the Houston Rockets would never make another shot Kenny Thomas came through with a pair of clutch, fourth quarter baskets less than a minute apart to help edge the winless Philadelphia 76ers, 77-72, Thursday night.
The Rockets held a nine-point lead entering the final period but missed their first 13 shots. Still struggling on offense, the 76ers weren't much better but closed to 65-63 on Matt Harpring's jumper with 5:43 to go.
After a timeout, Houston went to Thomas, who drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws. On the next possession, he beat Derrick Coleman for a driving layup and a 69-63 lead with 4:14 left.
Dikembe Mutombo scored for the 76ers, but Thomas answered again with another inside basket over Coleman with 3:36 remaining. Kelvin Cato's dunk off a lob from Steve Francis built the lead to 73-65 with 2:25 to play.
Cato's hoop was the last for the Rockets, who shot 3-of-20 in the fourth quarter. But it was enough to hold off the Sixers (0-5), who matched their worst start under coach Larry Brown.
Francis scored 18 points and Thomas and Glen Rice added 14 apiece for the Rockets (5-1), who are accustomed to quick starts. Houston has started 5-1 or better is six of the last nine years.
Coleman had 20 points and nine rebounds and Mutombo added 16 and 18 for the Sixers, who again were without NBA Most Valuable Player Allen Iverson and remained the lone winless team in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers welcomed back guard Aaron McKie, who missed all of training camp and the first four games while recovering from shoulder surgery. The 2001 Sixth Man Award winner started and played 42 minutes, collecting eight points and 10 assis