No brotherly love in Philly: Sixers beat the Kings 123-114 on Friday night

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Photo/Graphic: @NBCS

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The road to the NBA Playoffs just became a long, uphill battle for the Sacramento Kings after they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 123-114 on Friday night to wrap up a four-game road trip. The Kings will return home having won just one of those four games. At a bare minimum, Sacramento needed to go 2-2 on the trip.

Sacramento is now two games under .500 with a record of 33-35. The team is 3-7 over their last 10 and has lost three consecutive games. The Kings are mired in ninth-place in the Western Conference 6.0 games behind the LA Clippers and Utah Jazz who are tied for seventh-place. With just 14 games remaining in the season, time is running out for the Kings unless they can go on an incredible multiple game winning streak.

The Kings played better basketball on Friday than they did on Thursday night in Boston. They improved their performances from the free throw line and from behind the 3-point line. Sacramento took care of the ball turning it over just nine times.

It is not often that a team improves its play in the second game of a back-to-back set on the road.

Why did the Kings lose?

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Photo: @NBCS
  1. They played a better team. The Philadelphia 76ers are a talented team that should go deep into the Eastern Conference Playoffs. All five of the Sixers starters scored in double figures with Ben Simmons being the low scorer with 18 points.
  2. The Sixers shot 50.5-percent from the field. It is very difficult to win when your opponent shoots over 50-percent for the contest.
  3. Philadelphia won the battle at the free throw line converting 24-of-27 (88.9%) opportunities. It does need to be noted that the Kings dramatically improved their free throw shooting performance over Thursday night by sinking 19-of-24 (79.2%) of their chances from the charity stripe.

Kings top performers

  • Marvin Bagley III was not the Kings leading scorer, but he did score 15 points in just over 20 minutes of playing time. His playing time is being limited after missing five games from suffering a knee sprain. Dave Joerger said after the game that he hated to take him out, but he knows there is no reason to risk rushing MB35 back into longer minutes.
  • Harrison Barnes continues to show why the Kings would like him to exercise his player option on his 2019-20 contract or request to talk to management about long-term options. Barnes recorded 16 points, six rebounds and three assists versus the Sixers.
  • Harry Giles III put up 12 points in just over 18 minutes on the floor. H20 shot 6-for-9 from the field and pulled down four rebounds. He also dished out four assists.
  • Other contributors: De’Aaron Fox 16 points, Buddy Hield 14, Willie Cauley-Stein 13 points and seven rebounds.

Philadelphia performers

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Photo: @NBCS
  • Jimmy Butler was the leading scorer in the game with 22 points. He also added seven assists and six rebounds.
  • Joel Embiid put a double-double in the book scoring 21 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. He is just a force on the defensive glass.
  • Tobias Harris continues to show why the Sixers made a trade to get him as he scored 19, made seven rebounds and distributed four assists.
  • JJ Redick put 19 up on the board. Redick went 4-for-9 from downtown.

Up next

The Kings traveled back to Sacramento after the game and will have Saturday off. Sacramento returns to action on Sunday at 3:00 PM when they will host the Chicago Bulls at the Golden 1 Center.

The Sixers head out on the road and will have to face the “Greek Freak” and company in Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon.

 

Kings battle the Clippers but come up short losing 106-98

 

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
Tipoff of Clippers vs Kings Photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento — The Sacramento Kings had the unenviable job of trying to get back into the win column against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. The Clippers (25-14) came into the game winners of two consecutive games despite being short-handed due to injuries.

The Kings (15-21) literally went to battle with their rivals from Southern California but were unable to cross the finish line victorious losing 106-98.

Kings head coach Dave Joerger analyzed the game this way: “Good competitive basketball game. They’re a very talented team. They made more shots than we did. The lack of seeing the ball go in affected some of the other parts of out game. We had a tough stretch in the second quarter … they got some transition three’s. All in all good basketball game. The guys competed.”

When asked how his team is going to be able to beat teams like the Clippers in the future, Joerger responded, “They have just got to keep working and playing as hard as they can. Play at as high of a level as they can. There’s nothing to hang your head about. They (the Clippers) are one of the five best teams in the league.”

The Kings cut the Clippers lead to just two points, 100-98, with 56.2-seconds remaining in the game. After Sacramento turned the ball over on a bad pass by Cousins under the basket, the Kings had no choice but to foul the opposition. The Clippers went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in final seconds while Kings were unable to score.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said, “The resolve, I thought that we showed in the fourth quarter was just fantastic. I love it.”

Key players returned for both teams

The Kings had been without Rudy Gay for nine games due to a right hip flexor strain. Gay was able to return to the lineup on Friday night and made an immediate impact scoring nine points in the first quarter.

Gay went on to play 33-minutes scoring 18 points and adding seven rebounds for his team. He shot 7-for-17 for the game and was just 1-for-3 from beyond the 3-point line, but there was bound to be some rust to shake off after the extended layoff.

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
Chris Paul returned to action for the Clippers on Friday after missing four games Photo: NBAE

Chris Paul made his return to the floor for the Clippers in the game. The all-star point guard had been sidelined for four consecutive games due to a sore left hamstring. Paul played 31-minutes and recorded a double-double by scoring 14 points and dishing out 12 assists.

Paul’s head coach, Doc Rivers, thought his defense down the stretch was what made the difference in the game for the Clippers.

The teams traded controlling the flow of the game

The Kings and Clippers each controlled the flow of the game in very distinct ways on Friday night. Sacramento was very much in charge in the first quarter as they outscored LAC 29-19 and shot 50-percent from the field. They seemed determined, ready and not totally dependent on DeMarcus Cousins.

Sacramento ran into a real rough patch in the second period as the Clippers erased their 10-point lead in less than six minutes. Los Angeles outscored the Kings 34-12 in the quarter behind the 3-point shooting of Austin Rivers and JJ Redick. Sacramento shot just 15-percent (3-for-20) in the period. At the half, the Clippers led the Kings 53-41.

Based on their play in the second quarter, the Kings could have been completely out of the game early if they did not come out strong after halftime. They responded to that challenge and shot the lights out in the third quarter. Sacramento behind Cousins’ 11 points outpaced the Clippers 32-22 in the period. The Kings shot 63.2-percent (12-for-19) from the field and hit 4-of-8 3-point opportunities as they closed the LA lead to just two points, 75-73, after 36 minutes of play.

The talent and experience of the Clippers came into play in the fourth quarter as they scored 31 points to the Kings 25. LAC shot 50-percent (9-for-18) from the floor and 50-percent (5-of-10) from 3-point land plus they converted 8-of-9 free throws in the final period. Chris Paul led the Clippers scoring attack with seven points all from the free throw line.

The Kings struggled as they shot 9-for-24 (37.5-percent) from the field and 33.3-percent (3-for-9) from long range in the quarter. They hit 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.

The flow of most games is not usually as defined as it was in this game and is much more difficult to uncover. In this game, it was almost like there was a giant flashing arrow pointing out a change in the direction of the flow of the game.

Key Performers

Kings

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
Ty Lawson played strong for the Kings vs the Clippers Photo: NBAE
  • DeMarcus Cousins scored a game-high 25 points and made it a double-double game by grabbing 11 rebounds. Cousins spent much of the night on the high post in order to avoid foul trouble by battling with DeAndre Jordan and Luc Mbah a Moute.
  • Darren Collison was very productive playing the two-guard most of the game. He scored 20 points shooting 7-for-13 from the floor and hitting 3-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc.
  • Ty Lawson put up 17 points while shooting 50-percent (6-for-12) from the floor. Lawson also distributed six assists from the point for the Kings.
  • Kosta Koufos played a diminished role with the change in rotation due to Gay’s return and the use of Collison and Lawson on the floor together. Dave Joerger praised Koufos for his professional attitude toward the changes. He scored seven points in 12-minutes of playing time. That was key playing time because it allowed DeMarcus Cousins to get very valuable rest.

Clippers

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
Austin Rivers scored 24 points for the Clippers against the Kings Photo: NBAE
  • Austin Rivers had another big game for LAC scoring 24 points in almost 36 minutes on the floor. Rivers hit 4-of-7 3-point shots.
  • DeAndre Jordan put up 20 points from the five spot on the floor. He was an incredible 9-for-10 on high percentage shots for the Clippers. Many of those shots were “slammed home with authority!”
  • JJ Redick did his job to perfection killing the Kings momentum with well timed field goals that totaled 19 points. Five of his six baskets were 3-point conversions.

Up next on the schedule

The Kings will return to action at home on Sunday night when they host the Golden State Warriors. Playing the Warriors is tough enough but now Golden State is going to come to Sacramento angry. The Warriors lost an overtime game at home to Memphis on Friday night. There were reports of anger between players spilling over in the locker room. Golden State will be determined not to lose two in a row.

The Clippers return to Los Angeles and will host the Miami Heat on Sunday at the Staples Center. The Heat lost to the Lakers 127-100 at Staples on Friday night. The Clippers have the opportunity to make it four consecutive wins in one week. That would be a nice way to kick off the new year.

Kings Game Preview: Clippers look for third consecutive win on Friday night

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins scored 38 points against the Clippers in November Photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Tale of the Tape

Sacramento Kings 15-20

  • 8th place Western Conference – final Playoff slot if the season ended today
  •  15.5 games behind 1st place Golden State
  • one-half game ahead of 9th place Portland
  • Home 7-8 Road 8-12
  • Last 10 games 6-4
  • Current Streak Lost 1

Los Angeles Clippers 24-14

  • 4th place Western Conference
  • 8.0 games behind 1st place Golden State
  • 4.5 games behind 3rd place Houston
  • Home 13-6 Road 11-8
  • Last 10 games 4-6
  • Current streak Won 2

Results of last games played

Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings
Miami’s Tyler Johnson grabs the rebound Photo: NBAE

Sacramento

The Kings suffered an  embarrassing loss on Wednesday night at home to the lowly Miami Heat 107-102. The Heat came into the game with an 10-26 record and team that has been decimated by injury. Miami was without Hassan Whiteside (retinal contusion) and Justise Winslow (right shoulder that requires season-ending surgery). The Kings were without Rudy Gay (hip flexor) and coming off a win on Tuesday night on the road in Denver. The situation certainly seemed to favor Sacramento on their home court despite the back-to-back scenario.

The Heat came out fast and full of energy while the Kings seemed sluggish. Miami scored 64 points in the first half while shooting 63-percent. The Kings fought their way back into the game in the second half by virtue of a 13-0 run at the end of the third quarter. Ultimately, the Kings ran out of gas and lost the game.

With games coming up with the Clippers, Warriors, Cavaliers and Thunder on this homestand, the game with Miami was one the Kings could not afford to lose. Now, they have to try and get healthy against the always tough Los Angeles Clippers.

LA Clippers

The Clippers have been hit hard by injuries. Point guard Chris Paul has been on the sidelines with hamstring problems and forward Blake Griffin is out due to “minor” knee surgery. The Clippers had to host the Memphis Grizzlies who played the Lakers in Staples Center on Tuesday losing 116-102. The Grizzlies were without JaMychal Green (maxilla fracture suffered in the Lakers game) and Mike Conley who was held out for rest after having missed games with a toe injury.

The Clippers were led by Austin Rivers who scored a game-high 28 points in 44-minutes on the floor. His coach and father Doc Rivers said they just could not take him off the floor. DeAndre Jordan posted a double-double putting up 18 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. JJ Redick punished the Grizzlies from outside scoring 19 points. Jamal Crawford came off the bench to add 22 points. LAC shot 50.7-percent from the field for the game and beat the Grizzlies 115-106.

The victory over Memphis was the second consecutive win for the Clippers who broke a six-game losing streak on Monday night with a win over Phoenix. Now, the Clippers will play in Sacramento looking to make in three wins in a row.

Last Meeting

The Clippers beat the Kings 121-115 in the first meeting of the year back in November at the Golden 1 Center. Sacramento was down by as many as 26 points in that game but made a big run at the Clippers in the fourth quarter to close within two points, 117-115, as the game neared the close. The Kings were not be able to score again and lost by six points.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 38 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and had seven assists for the Kings. Blake Griffin put up 29 points for the Clippers while JJ Redick scored 26 hitting 6-of-8 3-point shots.

Injury Update

NBA: Miami Heat at Sacramento Kings
Ty Lawson played against the Heat despite injury Photo: USA Today

The Kings have listed Rudy Gay as doubtful as the hip flexor continues to plague the talented forward. Doubtful means there is a 25-percent chance of Gay playing Friday night. As much as the Kings need him, do not count on see Rudy Gay in this game.

Guard Ty Lawson scored 15 points against the Heat despite having a sub conjunctival hemorrhage right/blurred vision (or as one talk show host called it “a broken face”). As a precaution Lawson is listed as questionable which means he is 50-50 to play on Friday.

The Clippers have Chris Paul listed as doubtful but Doc Rivers said that the decision will be based on the guard’s condition after a full workout on Thursday. Paul and the team have made no secret that they would like to their star return to action on Friday night in Sacramento.

Blake Griffin (knee surgery) and Brice Johnson (herniated disc, lower back) are out and will not play.

What do the teams need to do to win

Kings

  • Sacramento needs to shoot well from midrange and from beyond the arc. The Kings are capable of shooting well from the floor. They shot better than 50-percent in the loss to Miami on Wednesday. Strong shooting performances from Barnes, Collison, Tolliver, Temple, Afflalo and Lawson – if he is able to go – will be necessary to help take the pressure off DeMarcus Cousins.
  • The Kings will also need a big night on the boards from DeMarcus Cousins. DeAndre Jordan will grabbing rebounds without abandon for the Clippers, the Kings will need Cousins to do the same for them.
  • The Kings defense will also need to concentrate on shutting down the 3-point shooting of the Clippers. JJ Redick will take every opportunity given to him to heave up a 3-pointer. This is a weak point for the Kings. They need to work hard on stopping the 3-point shots on Friday night.

Clippers

  • LAC needs to shoot from beyond the arc until it hurts. This has been the Achilles heal of the Kings all season long. JJ Redick is a shooting guard who can destroy a team from 3-point land. He needs to establish that dominance early and often against the Kings on Friday night.
  • The Clippers will need a strong defensive performance from Luc Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan to contain DeMarcus Cousins if they are to beat the Kings. If you stop Cousins, you stop the Kings. The problem is – it may take more than two players to stop Cousins.
  • Los Angeles could really use the presence of point guard of Chris Paul on Friday night. The Kings are going to play angry after losing to Miami on Wednesday night. Having the incredible skills of the all-star point guard to counteract that anger would really benefit the Clippers.

What do the experts predict?

  • FiveThirtyEight.com says this game will go to the Clippers. They give the Clippers a 54-percent chance of winning the game. FiveThirtyEight.com says to take LAC minus one point.
  • The Desert Dwellers either have no idea how to call this game or do not care about the game because as of 7 a.m. PST Friday no odds or over/under had been posted for this contest.

Complete postgame coverage tonight on sportsradioservice.com. Listen to the Kings podcast every Tuesday with Charlie O.