Lucky for me, I was busy on Sunday afternoon and wasn’t able to watch the return of the Kangz in New York. Sounds like I really dodged a bullet on that one. After suffering what sounds like their worst loss of the season, the Kings had little time to wallow as they faced the Philadelphia 76ers tonight. Marking the start of the back end of this road trip, tonight’s matchup against the Sixers was the first of a brutal back-to-back for the Kings. And Joel Embiid, averaging a career-high 33.4 points per game, was not expected to make this an easy night for the Beam Team. Let’s see how they did:
Outcome: Kings lose, 103-123
Sacramento Kings: 103 pts, 41.3% fg, 23.8% 3 pt, 85.0% ft, 21 ast, 48 reb, 17 to
Philadelphia 76ers: 123 pts, 51.2% fg, 45.7% 3 pt, 77.8% ft, 34 ast, 42 reb, 12 to
I dodged Sunday’s bullet but got hit square between the eyes by tonight’s. That was pretty torturous. Joel Embiid took control early, living at the free throw line for most of the 1st quarter, and Philadelphia never let up after that. The Kings had a few runs here and there that made me raise an eyebrow, but nothing felt sustainable for them all night long.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
- Bench: Despite the return of De’Aaron Fox, the Kings starting unit struggled to find any flow or consistency together. The rare bursts of success the Kings did have mainly came from their bench. In one of the few categories they won, the Kings’ bench outscored Philly’s bench 47-29. Malik Monk (16 points) and Terence Davis (12 points) used their time on the floor to push the ball, look for quick offense, and capitalize on a Philly defense still on its heels. Much of the game was played in the slow, half court setting that Philly prefers, so the change of pace provided by the Kings’ bench put the Sixers out of their element and gave the Kings some of their best looks of the night.
- Ice Cold from 3: Although the Kings looked pretty bad overall, things could have been different if they didn’t happen to shoot absolutely horrendously from the 3-point line. Finishing just 10-42 tonight, the Kings suffered all night long from missed shots, long rebounds, and the Sixers consequently capitalizing in transition. The Sixers finished with 23 fast break points, most of which came off of the 32 long misses the Kings had from deep. The Kings got a lot of good looks, but weren’t able to convert. Had a few of those gone down at opportune moments, the Kings might have been able to use that momentum in their favor to make more meaningful runs. However, each of their runs were easily stymied by the Sixers once the Kings shooting dried up once again.
- No Kinds of ‘Fense: Offense? Nope. Defense? Especially nope. The Kings looked awful on both sides of the ball tonight. Early foul trouble set them up for failure on defense, as Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, and Neemias Queta picked up a combined seven fouls in the 1st quarter trying to contain Joel Embiid. The Sixers enjoyed a dominant start from Embiid who ended the 1st quarter with 16 points on 8-9 from the free throw line. This foul trouble altered the physicality the Kings were willing to risk on defense, thus allowing Embiid to continue dominating inside for the remainder of the night. Embiid finished with 31 points on 10 made field goals and 11-13 from the free throw line. To add salt to the wound, the Kings weren’t able to capitalize when Embiid did get his rest, as James Harden got hot as soon as he realized he could keep the ball in his hands. Harden finished with 21 points and 15 assists with four made 3-pointers. Tobias Harris also added 21 points himself to go along with nine assists. The Kings failed to fully execute any defensive schemes successfully. Whether it was double teams, a zone look, or straight up coverage, Philly quickly picked their defense apart for easy looks. On the offensive end, the Kings couldn’t find any rhythm. Philly’s defense disrupted the Kings’ movement early, deflecting a lot of those sneaky passes we are used to seeing in the paint for easy layups. Add that to the their inability to make any wide open 3s, and the Kings’ offense was easily halted. To sum it all up, this game felt like a slow, painful death by a thousand free throws and missed shots.
The King of Kings
Domantas Sabonis logged his 18th double double of the season, finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds. One thing I love about watching Sabonis play is that you will never see him quit. For every minute he was on the floor, he was willing to go to war in the paint.
Operation: MCNAIR – Season 2 Watch
No beam tonight, but we can still light up our community with some generous donations!
Tonight’s chosen charity is Opening Doors Inc. who support immigrants, refugees and survivors of trafficking!
Wednesday, December 14th @ Toronto Raptors – 4:30 P.M. (PT)