Sacramento was handed a big opportunity tonight with the news that Philadelphia would be without three starters in Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson. Hesitant Kings fans who had seen it all this season weren’t quick to call this an automatic W and those people were right. The 76ers were on fire from three and never cooled off. The Kings, who have come back down from 20 point deficits before, gave it a go again but couldn’t get the job done.
Well the first quarter was another slow start for the Kings. The defensive intensity was lacking and Philly had no issues getting what they wanted. Al Horford was bullying down low and even hit a corner three. On offense for Sacramento, Harry Giles did everything. Came off short picks for floaters, hit two jumpers, find the cutters, you name it. However, the other starters failed to produce and the Kings fell to a 15-6 lead early. The defensive intensity picked up with Alex Len and Kent Bazemore coming into the game, but Philly continued to hit their threes. Fox converted two and-1 opportunities by attacking the rim, but they were still down 30-18. The Kings then went on a 12-0 run, getting stops on defense and scoring at the rim. Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica and Bazemore were all key on both ends to storm back into it. The quarter ended 32-30, Philly.
The second quarter began very sloppy for the Kings. They kept turning it over, gave bad inbounds passes and the 76ers would take a 46-34 lead. The Kings were way too inconsistent with the gas pedal and kept letting their foot off. Tobias Harris couldn't be stopped from anywhere and Shake Milton continued his hot shooting. Fox led the Kings with 13 points and Bazemore provided 12 off the bench, but missed an open layup at the buzzer to leave it at 63-53, 76ers.
The third quarter didn't start much better either for the Kings. They continued to be sloppy on offense and just couldn't hit a three to save their life. The Sixers continued to drop in threes and didn't let Sacramento make any runs after the end of the first quarter run. The Sixers led 75-59 with seven minutes remaining. As soon as I typed that, the Kings went on a 12-0 to cut a 80-61 deficit to 80-73. It started with a Bjelica three and then the backcourt trio of Fox-Hield-Bogi made shots too. The run didn't last long and it was Raul Neto, yes Neto, caught fire from three and made free throws that extended the lead. The Kings still couldn't hit anything from deep even when they were good looks, but trailed 96-80.
Unsurprisingly, the Sixers hit a three to start the quarter but Hield responded with two threes. However, Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks were also hitting their threes and grew their lead to 108-88. They weren't defending the three and it kept killing them. Sacramento would give hope again, going on a 16-2 run propelled by five straight points from Hield. The Kings knocked down more threes than they had almost all game and a lineup with Harrison Barnes at center worked. However, the run fell out of steam and the Sixers closed it out.
Buddy Hield’s fourth quarter gave hope to a team desperately looking for some, but it fell short. He finished with 22 points including going 6-10 from three along with three steals, but he wasn’t impactful enough in the first half.
De’Aaron Fox had himself a solid outing, going for 23 points, seven assists, three rebounds, one block and one steal but it wasn’t enough. He was usually the only King giving consistent effort and that can’t happen.
Harrison Barnes couldn’t stop Tobias Harris on offense, but provided offense going for 15 points on 5-10 shooting, six rebounds and five assists. They just needed some more of him on both ends.
The Kings shot 42-79 overall, good for 53.2% but went 11-29 from three which is still a good 37.9% but it wasn’t enough to counter the Sixers going 17-37 from three.
Philadelphia won the rebound battle 45-37 and assisted more at 24-23. Lots of second chance points for Philly.
The Kings turned it over 18 times and that’s too much against a feisty Sixer squad.
The Kings scored more fast break points at 18-9.
The new biggest game of the season will be on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. PST against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland.