By Tony Renteria
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The game between the Sixers and Kings came down to free throws on Monday night as Sacramento won their fourth consecutive game 102-100.
Garrett Temple put the Kings up by three points with 14.9-seconds to go when he hit 1-of-2 free throws. Philly’s Sergio Rodriguez answered back with a 25-foot 3-point shot that cut the Kings lead to just one point. Robert Covington fouled Cousins with 5.9-seconds remaining in the game. The Kings big man converted 1-of-2 foul shots allowing the Kings to take a 102-100 lead. The Sixers Joel Embiid missed two 3-point shots in those final seconds and the Kings held on for the victory.
The Kings had to outscore Philadelphia 32-23 in the final period to win the contest. The Sixers held a 77-70 lead after three quarters.
The Sacramento Kings record improved to 14-17 with the victory while Philadelphia dropped to 7-23 after the loss. Sacramento holds on to eighth place in the Western Conference with a one-game lead over ninth place Denver and a two-game lead over 10th place Portland – the Kings next opponent.
With 31 games under their belt this season, the Kings just need three wins to get to .500. First-year head coach Dave Joerger continues to focus on defense and finding the right combination of players to put on the floor.
DeMarcus Cousins again led the team in scoring with 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting, while also adding nine rebounds. Rudy Gay returned to the Kings lineup after missing six games with a hip flexor. He made his presence known chipping in 17 points himself. Gay’s return did create a significant change in the Kings player rotation.
Ty Lawson was again a major factor off the bench for Sacramento on Monday night. He scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds (three offensive), dished out four assists and had two steals in 20-minutes of playing time. Willie Cauley-Stein played significant minutes especially in the third quarter when Kosta Koufos experienced foul trouble. Cauley-Stein went into the game to help defend Embiid and wound up scoring nine points and pulled down four rebounds.
The Kings won the battle in the paint outscoring the Sixers 52-46 down low. Sacramento also out-rebounded Philly 42-38. The Kings had 24 assists but they turned the ball over 19 times which resulted in 24 points for Philadelphia.
The 76ers were led by Joel Embiid and his 25 points and eight rebounds. Sergio Rodriguez also added 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Jahlil Okafor played 19-minutes at center scoring six points and posting one rebound. Disgruntled big man Nerlens Noel received just three-minutes on the floor and scored three points for his team.
Former King Nick Stauskas never really got going in the game. He played just 19-minutes scoring four points shooting just 2-for-4 from the floor. Stauskas is actually having his best year in the NBA upping his scoring average to 9.5 points per game which is a 2.6 point improvement over his career average of 6.9 points per game.
The 76ers head to Utah to play the Jazz Thursday, while the Kings will travel to Portland play the Trail Blazers Wednesday. The Kings are 1-1 versus the Trail Blazers this season. Each team has won on their home court. DeMarcus Cousins scored 55 points in Kings 126-121 victory over Portland at the Golden 1 Center. The game on Wednesday night will be the final meeting of the season between the two teams.