The Sacramento Kings are one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and they look to keep the success going when they host the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
The Kings have won four straight contests and seven of their past eight as they open a five-game homestand against the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers (17-7).
The torrid stretch has seen the Kings go from five games below .500 to 12-11 on the season. And the last three wins have come against playoff teams from last season: the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
“We’re playing defense,” star point guard De’Aaron Fox said after Sunday’s 113-110 road win over the Clippers. “That’s the biggest thing about what we’re doing right now.
“We knew we’re able to score with anybody. When we’ve needed stops we’ve been able to get them. If we can stay locked in defensively and we can keep our turnovers down, we can give ourselves a chance to win.”
The 23-year-old Fox certainly has been locked in offensively and Monday it was recognized when he was named NBA Player of the Week in the Western Conference for his performance during Sacramento’s 4-0 week.
Fox averaged 31 points and 8.8 assists during the week and had outings of 38 points against the New Orleans Pelicans and 36 against the Clippers.
He repeatedly took over in the fourth quarters of games. Against the Pelicans, he scored 17 consecutive Kings points as his team rallied to a win.
Two nights later, he scored 13 fourth-quarter points against Boston to fuel another strong final stanza. He scored 12 consecutive Sacramento points in the fourth quarter against the Clippers.
“This is what he’s capable of,” Kings coach Luke Walton said of Fox. “This is what he as a player and as a worker has started to turn himself into. He gives the whole team a lot of confidence when he’s playing in this type of attack mode. I know he took over the fourth, but he did it all game, really, in my opinion. He was in attack mode all night and that’s when our team is at our best.”
The 76ers have also been on a roll with five wins in the past six games.
Center Joel Embiid has been solid with four 30-point efforts during the stretch. He scored 33 points in Saturday’s 124-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Going back a bit deeper, Embiid has tallied 30 or more in eight of his past 10 appearances, including twice topping 40.
“He’s just been dominant,” teammate Ben Simmons said. “I haven’t seen anyone who can stop him.”
Simmons also performed solidly against the Nets as he had 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go with 12 rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers is in his first season coaching Simmons and is beginning to understand his significance to a team.
“I think you have to coach him and be around him to see his value,” Rivers said. “He’s invaluable to a basketball team. Not only his defense and passing, but so many little things.”
Tobias Harris also is providing consistent offense by topping 20 points in eight of the past 11 games. He had 21 points, a season-best 12 rebounds and matched his season high of six assists against Brooklyn.
The 76ers have won the past three meetings with the Kings, including two last season. Embiid had 33 points and 16 rebounds in a 97-91 home win on Nov. 27, 2019, and Harris recorded 28 points and 14 rebounds in a 125-108 road win on March 5, 2020.
–Field Level Media