Road Reaction: Philadelphia 76ers 89, Sacramento Kings 80

For one quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Sacramento Kings played the game of basketball to their potential.  In the third period, the Kings focused on defense and flew up and down the open court, scoring easily in transition.  For one quarter, the run-and-gun style many have felt this team could play on a nightly basis came to fruition.

Unfortunately for the Kings, there were three other quarters to play, which led to their downfall.  They lost 89-80 to the Philadelphia 76ers in a winnable game at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night.

Sacramento couldn’t have played any better than they did in the third period.  Coming out of halftime and trailing by 15 points, the Kings managed to score eight of their 21 fastbreak points in the period.  They trimmed the Sixers’ lead to four and even got off to a quick 5-0 start in the fourth.  But the offense stagnated, as has often been the case with this team over the last year, and they scored only seven more points in the period.

With the loss, the Kings fall to 17-31 overall and 5-19 on the road.

Notes and Analysis

  • Tyreke Evans put together a phenomenal effort for the Kings.  Evans scored 13 of a season-high 29 points on 61 percent shooting in the third quarter.  More than half of his points were scored inside the paint in the period following intermission.  Evans had his way with the Sixers’ defense, turning the jets on in the open court.  Unfortunately, he cooled off in the critical fourth period, where he scored just three points.
  • Isaiah Thomas was another King that dominated the third quarter.  He scored 10 of his 24 points in the period after halftime.  At the end of the third quarter and in the beginning of the fourth, Thomas drew two big fouls while shooting three’s that brought the Kings within striking distance.  Thomas combated a low-percentage shooting night by going 10-for-10 from the charity stripe.
  • After four lackluster games, DeMarcus Cousins quietly came out of his slump.  The Kings starting center recorded his first double-double in 12 days, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

  • The Kings managed to make Jrue Holiday play about as bad as he could tonight.  He committed a game-high eight turnovers for the Sixers in the win.  But, the first-time All-Star was still more of a positive than negative presence for the Sixers as he posted a +13 in plus/minus in 44 minutes of action.  Holiday also finished with 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting and dished out seven assists.
  • Early on in the game, the Kings played lackadaisical defense and allowed the Sixers to have their way inside the paint.   Thaddeus Young was the prime beneficiary of Kings’ struggles to defend the rim.  The Sixers power forward scored 18 of his 23 total points around the restricted area tonight.  He also chipped in 15 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
  • The bench was the main reason the Kings had to dig themselves out of hole in the first place.  With a lineup of Aaron Brooks, Marcus Thornton, Francisco Garcia, Chuck Hayes and Thomas Robinson, a six-point deficit ballooned to double-digits in the second quarter.  By the time Smart reinserted all of his starters back in the game, the Kings were trailing by 19 points.
  • Stat of the Night:   After a scorching-hot third quarter where they shot 55 percent from the field on 11-of-20 shots, the Kings stumbled back down to earth in the fourth period.   They saved their worst basketball for last as they shot just 17 percent and made only 3-of-18 attempts in the final frame.

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  Will the Kings win the rebounding battle?

Once again, the opposition grabbed more rebounds than the Kings.  The Sixers out-rebounded the Kings 47-35 in their nine-point victory.  Cousins was the only player to make an impact on the glass, grabbing a team-high 12 boards.

2.  Will the Kings have an answer for Jrue Holiday?

The Kings starting backcourt managed to play good enough to win tonight’s game, but so did Holiday.  He overcame a poor-night handling the ball to score 20-plus points in victory.  The game-changer for Philly was actually Nick Young.  The streak scorer out of USC finished with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

3.  Which Kings veteran, if any, makes the most significant contribution?

Francisco Garcia’s stat-line may not say much.  He finished with no points, two assists and just three rebounds in 20 minutes of action.  But, he did play timely defense for the Kings when they mounted their third-quarter comeback.  Garcia posted some nice defensive numbers in defeat, recording three steals plus a block.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.