The Sacramento Kings were at a distinct size disadvantage against the Philadelphia 76ers. With a starting lineup featuring the 6’9 Ben Simmons at point guard and a power forward/center combination of Al Horford and Joel Embiid, the Kings look positively tiny in comparison. The Sixers controlled the glass and held the Kings to only 41.1% shooting from the field.
Embiid and Horford in particular were unstoppable. Embiid was the headliner with 33 points and 16 rebounds, dominating the Kings by scoring all over the court and drawing fouls to get to the free throw line. But Horford was a quiet killer as well, scoring efficiently in the post to the tune of 12 points on only 9 shots, scoring over every defender the Kings threw at him. Matisse Thybulle came off the bench and changed the game with his shooting and defense. Thybulle was perfect from the field, scoring 15 points on 5/5 shooting, including 3/3 from three point range.
Unfortunately the Kings couldn’t make the Sixers pay with their shooting. Their recent uptick in play has coincided with some great shooting, particularly by Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Unfortunately, the Kings shooters really struggled, in no small part due to the 76ers defense. In particular, Thybulle was a menace, completely blanketing Hield, blocking a couple of his threes while picking Buddy’s pockets when Buddy got too casual with the ball. Hield finished with 22 points on 24 shots with three turnovers, and Bogdanovic scored 17 points on 15 shots.
Overall, the Kings now stand at 7-10 on the season, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Denver Nuggets next up on the slate. Marvin Bagley cannot come back soon enough.
- Dewayne Dedmon finally broke out of his slump with 18 points and 6 rebounds in only 22 minutes, including 2/5 from three point range. It doesn’t come a moment too soon either with Nemanja Bjelica going through a cold spell after starting the season with all guns blazing. Dedmon wasn’t hitting shots early, but crashed the glass and scored rolling to the basket. His defense was also critical to the Kings staying close to the Sixers.
- Justin James continues to impress in the short amount of minutes he gets. Today, he blended in seamlessly with the Kings’ second unit, playing solid defense and making good decisions on offense. His athleticism really stands out as he did a nice job doubling the post and making it hard for the post player to pass out with his long arms blanketing the sky. James finished with six points on 3/6 shooting.
- Harrison Barnes isoing at the top of the key is Luke Walton’s version of the blanky he sleeps with for comfort. Whenever the Kings are struggling, Walton dials up a play to get Barnes one-on-one just above the free throw line against a switch. There was one particular moment where Walton made a brilliant substition at the end of the first half; with Embiid shooting free throws and unable to sub out of the game, Walton quickly subbed in Bjelica at center at a moment where the Sixers could not make a lineup change to match up. With Embiid floating on the perimeter checking Bjelica, Barnes got an isolation against a switched point guard and walked him right to the rim for a layup. It was a really clever move by Walton that earned the team an easy two points.