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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.