What. A. Finish.
The Kings didn’t make things easy on their way to their second straight win and only third of the season, but they definitely made it interesting. Down 108 to 102 with a minute and a half remaining, the Kings looked like they were going to let this one slip away. The 76ers had the momentum and it would take some big plays for Sacramento to come back.
Big plays were made.
First, Willie Cauley-Stein blocked a layup from Joel Embiid that likely would have put the Kings away with a little over a minute left. De’Aaron Fox got the ball and pushed the tempo immediately, going coast to coast for a layup and the foul. While he missed his free throw attempt, Zach Randolph did a great job of boxing out and forced the 76ers to tip the ball out of bounds giving Sacramento the ball back. On the ensuing inbounds play, the Kings struggled to find an open look before Fox saw Garrett Temple open on the wing. The ball nearly hit a referee who jumped out of the way, and Temple was forced to take an off balance three that fortunately went in, cutting Philadelphia’s lead to one point with 50.6 seconds remaining.
The Kings played solid defense, but even still, the ball managed to get to Robert Covington, who had been killing the Kings all night from distance on his way to a game-high 24 points. This three, his twelfth attempt of the night, wouldn’t go in though, but Joel Embiid was right there for the rebound, his 15th.
Enter Willie Cauley-Stein.
The Kings called timeout and ran a play that had De’Aaron Fox running to the basket. Philadelphia managed to strip the ball out of his hands and out of bounds so Sacramento ran a different play. This time, the ball still went to Fox, who despite struggling all night with his shot (he finished shooting just 4-13) calmly pulled up from 18 feet and buried a jumper in Robert Covington’s face to give Sacramento a 109-108 lead with 13.4 second left.
The 76ers opted not to call their final timeout and instead gave the ball to Joel Embiid, who was forced to take a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer. It missed, and the Kings won.
While Fox deserves credit for hitting the shot of the night, (as well as racking up 7 assists to just 1 turnover), a lot of Kings deserve credit for the victory tonight. Justin Jackson followed a career night against Oklahoma City with an even better one against Philadelphia, scoring 19 points on 7-12 shooting and playing some solid defense as well. Jackson provided a big spark to the Kings in the second quarter and thanks to his off ball movement was able to get open for easy looks all night.
Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein both played some phenomenal defense. While Joel Embiid did score 22 points, he did so on just 7-20 shooting while committing 5 turnovers. In addition to two huge blocks on Embiid down the stretch, Willie was able to score 15 points in 24 minutes, and Kosta had a near double-double off the bench with 8 points and 12 rebounds.
Zach Randolph led the Kings in scoring with 20 points on 7-14 shooting, and even hit both of his three point attempts. Malachi Richardson also came in and provided a nice spark when the Kings needed it, scoring 8 points in just 7 and a half minutes, nailing all three of his shots.
This was a great team win, and the Kings showed some serious resilience when it looked like Philadelphia was going to come away with it at the end. There were still some flaws (17-28 free throw shooting nearly proved disastrous) but in the end, the Kings dug down and found a way to win on their home floor in spectacular fashion. In a season that will likely see more bad than good, this is as good as it gets.
For the opponent’s perspective, visit Liberty Ballers.
- Ben Simmons is going to be a problem in this league for a very long time. He scored 18 points to go with 6 assists and 2 steals in 27 minutes. No guy that big should be able to move or pass that well, and if he ever gets a jumper, beware. I don’t think he took a single one all game, but he didn’t need to with how easily he was getting into the paint.
- Robert Covington can shoot the crap out of the ball and is probably in line for a big raise whenever he goes to Free Agency.
- Games like these are why I can’t give up on Willie Cauley-Stein. His defense down the stretch was spectacular, and that’s what the Kings need from him. I also liked some of his aggressive takes to the rim. The Kings need more of that.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic really struggled with his shot tonight but he still found ways to contribute through his defense and passing.
- De’Aaron seemed a lot more focused on driving the basketball tonight but the 76ers were doing a good job of packing the paint on him and he wasn’t able to get many easy looks. He did get to the line for 7 attempts though, and even though he just made 3 of them, that’s something the Kings need on a more consistent basis.
- Buddy also struggled with his shot, but did hit two of four of his threes. He also managed to get 4 rebounds and 4 assists. He’s doing a good job of trying to be more than a one-dimensional player and it seems like he’s trying to put extra effort on the defensive side even if he’s not a great or even good defender just yet.
- Skal played just 10 and a half minutes this one and I have to say I wasn’t too upset with it given how he was playing when he was on the court. He was playing pretty timidly and rushed quite a bit. Skal needs to be a little more assertive when he’s on the court in my opinion.