Embiid goes off as the Sixers beat the Kings 97-91

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Photo: @Philadelphia 76ers

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings wrapped up their four-game road trip in Philadelphia on Wednesday on a “low note”. The 76ers Joel Embiid exploded for a game-high 33 points and 16 rebounds to lead his team to a 97-91 victory.

Embiid really was in need of a good game after being held scoreless in his team’s loss to the Raptors on Monday night. Embiid said he didn’t feel any pressure to have a “statement game”, but he was happy his team came away with the “W”.

3rd Quarter letdown

After trailing by just one point at halftime, the Kings put themselves in a great position to steal this game on the road. After starting a bit slow in the third period, Sacramento came alive and kept the score close until midway through the quarter.

The Kings went into a 3:04 scoring drought at the end of the third quarter which allowed the Sixers to outscore them 29-19. Philly led 76-65 after 36 minutes of play and the Kings would never be able to catch up.

SAC outscored the 76ers in the final quarter but it was too little too late. The Sixers (12-6) won the game 97-91.

Spotlight on the Kings

Looking at the final box score there is one glaring stat that jumps off the page. The Kings (7-10) went to the free throw line only nine times on Wednesday night and converted just four of those opportunities. An NBA team is not going to win a game going to the charity stripe just nine times.

To give you a comparison, the 76ers went to the line 24 times in the game – a very acceptable number. They went 20-for-24 (83.3%) from the stripe which helped them to win the game.

Ironically, the Kings outscored the Sixers in the paint 40-38 even though they were facing Embiid, Al Horford and Tobias Harris.

The biggest lead for Sacramento in the game for SAC was one point. The 76ers held a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter.

The Kings also had a tough night from “downtown”. They shot just 9-for-34 (26.5%) from beyond the 3-point line.

Sacramento scoring:

  • Buddy Hield was the team’s high scorer putting 22 points in the book. He had a tough night shooting going 9-for-24 overall and 3-for-12 from 3-point land.
  • Dewayne Dedmon came off the bench to put up 18 points and grab six rebounds.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic added 17 points hitting 7 of 15 shots.
  • Harrison Barnes scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Focus on the Sixers

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Embiid had a big game @ Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers blocked 10 Kings shots in the game while SAC blocked just three of the Sixers shots.

Philly scoring:

  • Matisse Thybulle came off the bench to score 15 points. He went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and hit 3 of 3 from behind the 3-point line.
  • Forward Tobias Harris scored 14 points.
  • The veteran Al Horford scored 12 points and hauled in seven rebounds.
  • Point guard Ben Simmons recorded a double-double putting up 10 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Up next

The Kings return home and will host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday afternoon at the Golden 1 Center.

The Sixers will face the Knicks on Friday night at the Garden.

The Kings playoff dreams take a hit as they lose to the Celtics 111-109

BOS buddy
Photo: @NBSCA

By Charlie O

SACRAMENTO– Wednesday night began with great hope for the Kings as they learned Kyrie Irving would not be playing for the Celtics due to a left thigh contusion. The betting lines immediately changed making the Kings the favorites minus two points.

The other advantage the Kings had going into the game with Boston was it was the second game of a back-to-back set on the road for the Celtics. Statistically, that also gives the home team a higher percentage chance of winning the game.

Things were going the Kings way before the game ever tipped-off. Unfortunately for Sacramento fans when the final buzzer sounded, Boston had defeated the Kings 111-109.

Why did the Kings lose?

There were two key factors that cost Sacramento the game:

  • Too many turnovers – The Kings have done an excellent job of taking care of the ball this season. In fact, it has been one of the keys to their success. On Wednesday night, Los Kings turned the ball over 18 times which resulted in 21 points for Boston. For the season, Sacramento has averaged 13.9 turnovers per game.
  • Not taking advantage of the free throw bonus – The Kings put the Celtics into the penalty in the fourth quarter with 8:25 left to play. That should have created a great advantage for Sacramento to exploit by driving to the basket and picking up a bonus free throw by getting fouled. The Kings were unable to do that. After putting Boston in the penalty, the Kings would not shoot a free throw until there was just 3:36 remaining to play. That five-minute gap without a free throw attempt may well have cost Sacramento the game.

Coach Dave Joerger was proud of his team

Kings Top Performers

  • Harrison Barnes came up big for the Kings again as he put 24 points in the book to go with eight rebounds. Barnes hit 8-of-14 field goal attempts including three 3-point baskets.
  • Buddy Hield added 23 points in the game. It was an odd game for Hield. He scored 14 points in the first half, zero points in the third quarter and nine points in the final period. In hustling Hield fashion, he also hauled in eight rebounds.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein scored 19 points, pulled down seven rebounds and added three assists in a very nice game for the center.
  • De’Aaron Fox had a 16 point game to go with his seven assists.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic had an active night recording 14 points against the Celtics. “Bogi” shot 5-for-9 from the floor and four of those buckets were 3-pointers.

De’Aaron Fox said it is always hard to lose a game like this one

Boston Head Coach Brad Stevens on the game

“They (the bounces) weren’t going our way. We had plenty of chances late offensively that just didn’t go down too. (Jayson) Tatum made a huge play – getting foul(ed) and a huge shot. But, we had a number of other possessions that you felt pretty good about that just didn’t go down. (Marcus) Morris made big plays and everybody stepped up to get up a huge win.”

Celtics Top Performers

  • Jayson Tatum had a team-high and tied for the game-high scoring 24 points. He shot 8-for-17 from the field and hit 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
  • Al Horford put 21 points up on the board and made it a double-double game by grabbing 11 rebounds. Horford scored 17 of those points in the second half.
  • Marcus Morris added 19 points for Boston in just over 33-minutes on the floor.
  • Terry Rozier scored 16 points. He put up 10 of those points in the first half and was a real key the Celtics success on offense in the first 24-minutes.
  • Gordon Hayward added 12 points coming off the bench and dished out five assists as well.

The game’s effect on the playoff races

The loss dropped the Kings record to 32-32 for the season and keeps them mired in ninth place in the Western Conference. The Spurs and Clippers are now tied with identical 37-29 records and both hold a four-game lead over the Kings in the standings.

The Celtics record improved to 40-26 with the victory. Boston now has sole possession of sixth-place in the East with a very comfortable 6.5 game lead over seventh-place Detroit. The Celtics are 1.5 games behind fifth-place Philadelphia.

Same two teams next week

The Kings and Celtics will have a rematch next Thursday in Boston. The Celtics could well determine the Kings fate when it comes to making the NBA Playoffs.

Up next

Both teams are off until Saturday.

The Kings will play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden with a 9:00 AM Pacific time tip-off. The early start is necessary because the Rangers have a hockey game that night in the Garden.

Boston is off to Atlanta to face the Hawks to wrap up their road trip.

 

Kings lose a battle in Boston 97-92

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics
Cousins and Horford battle under the basket Photo NBAE

The Kings and Celtics went to war on the basketball court on Friday night in Boston. The game featured 23 lead changes and 12 ties. As those stats would imply, both teams had the opportunity to win the game. In the end, Boston led by Al Horford was able to put the “W” in the books because of their tough play late in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics won their 11th game of the season as they downed the Kings 97-92. Sacramento now drops to 7-12 on the season and 1-2 on what is now a five-game road trip.

The Kings started slow and finished sluggish

Sacramento went with the “the big” starting lineup in this game – Koufos, Cousins, Gay, Afflalo and Collison. Boston began running away from this starting five immediately. By the 4:26 mark in the first quarter, the Celtics held a 13-point lead 24-11. Dave Joerger pulled all of his starters except Cousins and the second unit erased the deficit tying the game at 29-29 at the end of the first period.

That set up a real battle between the teams that played out in second, third and part of the fourth quarters.

With 7:54 to go in the game, Al Horford hit a hook shot that tied the game and the Celtics eventually went on a 10-0 run that created a major uphill battle for the Kings. Sacramento led by Cousins tried to fight their way back into the game and did cut the Celtics lead to three points with 39 seconds remaining in the game. The Kings were unable to score again in those final seconds and lost the game.

The Kings lost Cousins for medical treatment late in the 3rd and early in the 4th quarters

Late in the third quarter, Ty Lawson and DeMarcus Cousins were both going for a defensive rebound when Lawson’s left elbow hit Cousins above the left eye. The blow opened up a cut above Cousins’ left eye. He was taken to the locker room where they glued the cut shut and he returned to the game with under eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Was that the turning point in the game? No, it was not. Read the next section and you will understand why it was not the key to the loss.

Missed shots in the paint – poor shot selection – turnovers all haunt the Kings

“We just shot ourselves in the foot. We turned the damned thing (the ball) over like I’ve never seen.We take bad shots sometimes and it just ticks me off. At bad times … stuff we know we have to get better at. We’re not a bunch of rookies. We can get better. We’ll keep plugging away and keep getting better, but we shot 47 shots in the paint and missed how many layups? Turnovers killed us. Shots come and go – we didn’t make shots,” said Kings head coach Dave Joerger after the game.

Sacramento outscored Boston 42-34 in the paint but went 21-for-47 in the high percentage shooting area. The Kings shot just 37.9-percent (33-for-87) for the game. It is almost impossible to win a game in the NBA and shoot under 40-percent. Sacramento turned the ball over 15 times and those TOVs created 21 points for Boston.

Cousins was the Kings scoring leader but it was not his best night – Barnes was big

  • DeMarcus Cousins was the game’s leading scorer with 28 points but he had to take 26 shots to tally those points. He was 2-for-7 from long range. Cousins had nine rebounds so he did not record a double-double
  • Matt Barnes did have a double-double for the Kings on Friday night. He scored 12 points, grabbed 16 rebounds (game-high) and added five assists. Barnes also provided some much needed energy on defense several times in the game
  • Rudy Gay and Darren Collison each scored 12 points for Sacramento. Gay had eight rebounds but went 1-for-7 from 3-point range. Collison had three assists
  • Omri Casspi played almost 27 minutes off the bench and scored seven points. Casspi brought some much needed energy late in the first quarter
  • Willie Cauley-Stein had some strong minutes of playing time in the first half and scored six points in the game
Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics
Matt Barnes moves with the ball in Boston Photo NBAE

Al Horford was the star for Boston in the game

Horford had a complete game for the Celtics on Friday night against the Kings. The Boston center played 35-minutes scoring 26 points, recorded eight rebounds, dished out three assists, had two steals and six -yes you are reading correctly – six blocked shots. He shot 10-for-18 from the floor and 4-for-7 from beyond the 3-point line.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was even more impressed with Horford’s defense. Stevens talked about how his center is always at the ready on defense. Horford did make a key defensive play on Cousins in the final seconds of the game to deny the Kings big man a 3-point shot opportunity.

Other Celtic contributors

  • Former Kings player Isaiah Thomas put up 20 points and handed out seven assists on a night when he did not shoot his best. Thomas shot 6-for-21 from the floor and 0-for-5 from 3-point land
  • Jae Crowder added 16 points and Avery Bradley scored 15 for Boston
  • One of the big weaknesses for the Celtics is the lack of bench scoring. The Celtics reserves scored just 12 points in the contest. The Kings bench scored 33 points in the game
Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics
Isaiah Thomas goes to the basket against his old team on Friday night Photo NBAE

Up next on the schedule

The Kings have the day off in New York City on Saturday and then will face the New York Knicks in “the Garden” on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. PST in game four of the five-game road trip.

The Celtics kick off a road trip on Saturday night in Philadelphia with the Sixers assuming the floor is dry enough for play. The NBA will make sure the floor is game-ready for the Celtics and Sixers … take that to the bank.

Hawks get by Warriors in matchup of NBA heavyweights

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

ATLANTA — If critics still had their doubts about the Atlanta Hawks being the best team in the NBA.

Doubt no more.

Atlanta finished with seven players score in double figures, led by Jeff Teague’s 23 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the field, but shot 11-of-11 from the charity stripe as the Hawks shot a blistering 70.6 percent in the third quarter to take a 124-116 home victory over the Golden State Warriors Friday night in the battle of the top two teams from each conference.

Paul Milsap scored 21 points, Kyle Korver had 17 points (5-of-9 from 3-point range), and Al Horford finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who improved to an NBA-best 42-9 and 14-3 versus the Western Conference with the victory.

The lion share of the credit must got to the Hawks’ bench, that really determine the outcome of the game.

Mike Scott scored 17 points, Kent Bazemore had 11 points, and Dennis Schroder finished with nine points but combined to sink 7-of-8 on 3s. The second-best 3-pointing shooting shot 15-of-27 from 3-point range and outscored the Warrior’s bench, 39-32.

“They were good,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “They were better than us. We broke down defensively. They had a lot to do with that because of the way they stretch you out.”

The Hawks have won 21 of their last 22 games following a franchise record 19-game winning streak.

After leading 25-21 at the end of the first quarter, Golden State (39-9) just slowed down against Hawks team that improved to 25-3 at home this season, second to Golden State’s 23-2 record at Oracle Arena.

Klay Thompson had a game-high 29 points and Stephen Curry scored 26 points, to go along with nine assist and one turnover.

Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green had 12 points apiece, but Green had a gigantic night on the glass, finishing with a career-high 20 rebounds.

Golden State did have their way with the Hawks in the paint, outscoring Atlanta 58-36 down low. The Warriors even held the edge in rebounding, outrebouding the Hawks 51-38.

But Golden State committed too many turnovers (14), and never overcame the 14-4 run by Atlanta in the final minute of the second quarter after leading 50-47.

Golden State will have another chance at Atlanta when the Hawks visit Oakland on Mar. 18.

The Warriors continue their road trip Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, their fourth game in five nights.

Extra Buckets:

  • The game showcase three of the eight contenders in the Three-Point Contest before NBA All-Star Weekend in New York Feb. 14 in Warriors’ duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and Atlanta’s Kyle Korver.
  • The entire starting five of the Hawks (Horford, Teague, Korver, Milsap, and Carroll) were named Eastern Conference Players of the Month for January, the first time in NBA history that an entire starting five were given the honor. Atlanta finished 17-0 in January, tops in the NBA.
  • Apparently, Curry does not like Teague defending him at all. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Curry shot 3-of-8 on jump shots with Teague as his primary defender. In the first quarter, Curry shot 1-of-6 from the field, his worst of the season. He was 0-of-4 against Teague.