While the Sacramento Kings look to continue their drive to a possible playoff berth, the battered Philadelphia 76ers will look to halt their post All-Star Game slide.
The teams will meet Thursday at Sacramento, where playoff fever has emerged following the Kings’ strong run since the All-Star break. They are 6-1 since the NBA’s showcase game, falling only to the Oklahoma City Thunder while defeating the Los Angeles Clippers on the road.
The Kings got their offense going Tuesday in a 133-126 victory over the Washington Wizards, when they raced out to a 76-49 lead at halftime while shooting 60.0 percent from the field. It was their highest scoring half of the season.
The roles reversed in the third quarter with the Wizards holding a 46-19 advantage to tie the game, 95-95, but the Kings had enough of a finishing kick for the victory. The Wizards’ comeback did provide some tense moments as Kings head coach Luke Walton was ejected in the third quarter after receiving back-to-back technical fouls.
While Sacramento’s defense was not there in the third quarter, it showed up when it mattered in the fourth. Sacramento built a 10-point lead with 1:05 remaining on a pair of free throws from De’Aaron Fox, then held on from there.
Fox had 31 points while Bogdan Bogdanovic had 21. Sacramento shot 56.2 percent from the game and 44.8 percent from 3-point range. They had 42 rebounds to 31 for the Wizards.
The Kings’ revival has been spurred by their play at home, where they have won six consecutive games. After Thursday’s home game against the Sixers, the Kings go to Portland, then return home for four more in their own building.
“We’re still a few games out of the playoffs and that’s our goal right now,” Fox told NBC Sports California after Tuesday’s game. “You know, we dug ourselves a hole at the beginning of the season but right now I think we’re playing some pretty good basketball.”
The Sixers have been in a completely different mode, losing three of their last four games and four of their last six. They are on a four-game road trip through California, losing the first two in Los Angeles: 136-130 on Sunday to the Clippers and 120-107 to the Lakers on Tuesday.
The Sixers have been without three starters: Joel Embiid (shoulder) for the past three games, Ben Simmons (back) for the last five and Josh Richardson (concussion) for a game.
Embiid could be out until the middle of the month for a Philadelphia team that needs his services. The Sixers were in sixth place in the Eastern Conference at the start of play Wednesday, but had a comfortable gap ahead of seventh place.
In the defeat to the Lakers, Glenn Robinson III did what he could with a career-best 25 points, but L.A.’s Anthony Davis (37 points, 13 rebounds) and LeBron James (22 points, 14 assists) were too tough to overcome.
“It was always going to be a difficult game,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown told reporters afterward. “But my criteria going into it was, did we get something out of it? Did we move the needle a little bit? And I believe that we did. I think to get something out of Glenn Robinson was big.”
–Field Level Media