Barely able to recognize the Rockets team that back in 2013 lost to team like the Philadelphia 76ers, including the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Rockets knew they had grown out of that. The clues were ample, from the 25-game losing streak the Sixers brought to town to the Rockets’ three-month run over every losing team they had faced.

The Rockets’ remaining goals had become clear. Get the win without too much difficulty. Have some fun. Make sure no one was hurt.

The Rockets smacked the Sixers, 120-98, with relative ease once they managed to pay attention long enough late in the first half. They enjoyed themselves along the way. Terrence Jones put on a few ballhandling exhibitions. James Harden got his second career triple double without ever removing his warmups in the fourth quarter. Dwight Howard mixed in a few alley-oop slams and highlight-worthy blocked shots to give the highlight shows something to shout about.

They did not, however, check off the final box of the to-do list.

Point guard Pat Beverley left the game after eight minutes with a sprained right knee, walking very slowly and carefully to the locker room. Though he indicated that he was not concerned, he is scheduled for an MRI on Friday. With the schedule turning considerably tougher, starting Saturday against the Clippers, little can be as important as being at full strength.

But as the Rockets head to a game against a team that has dominated them in three meetings this season, with third in the Western Conference standings on the line, they also believe they have grown significantly against the top teams, with even their win against one of the league’s worst serving as proof.

In the first two months of the season, the Rockets dropped games to the Sixers, Jazz and Kings (twice.) In the three months since, they have not lost to a sub .500 team. Their win on Thursday completed a 15-0 home sweep of the Eastern Conference, the first home sweep of the opposing conference in franchise history and first for any team since the 2004-05 Mavericks.