76ers

Sixers-Kings observations: Unable to survive in Sacramento

Sixers-Kings observations: Unable to survive in Sacramento

BOX SCORE

Teams looking to take that next step finish off games and opponents like this one.

The Sixers battled back in the second half before ultimately suffering a 109-108 loss to the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on Thursday night.

De’Aaron Fox hit a pull-up jumper with 13.4 seconds remaining in regulation to put the Kings ahead by one. The Sixers struggled to find a decent look on the other end before Joel Embiid rimmed a jumper to seal the defeat.

The loss snapped the Sixers’ five-game win streak and dropped their record to 6-5.

• After missing Tuesday’s win over the Utah Jazz, Embiid returned to the lineup against the Kings.

The extra rest didn’t appear to do Embiid any favors early on as he looked rusty and lethargic for much of the first half. However, the big man came on strong late to still notch 22 points (7 for 20 shooting), 15 rebounds and three blocks.

• How does a team that’s last in the NBA in scoring (93.8 points per game) put up 64 points in the first half? It simply shoots 50 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from three-point range.

• That effort has a lot to do with the Kings’ bench. Led by Justin Jackson (19 points) and Fox (11 points, seven assists), Sacramento’s reserves sparked the team’s charge. The Kings won the battle of the bench points, 56-17.

• It appears the only way to slow down Ben Simmons is to get him in foul trouble. Simmons was limited to a season-low 27 minutes as he picked up five fouls in the contest. He still managed to put up 18 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in the game.

• You’ve heard the phrase “California cool” before, but one incident on Thursday night was a little bit different. Robert Covington was fouled by Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting a three-pointer early in the first quarter. Covington stepped to the stripe and nailed the first two free throws before several players for both teams began to run down the court the other way. They clearly forgot it was a three-point attempt and had to come back down for the final free throw, which Covington sank.

• Speaking of Covington, that wasn’t the only time he was fouled on a three-pointer. It actually happened three times in the game. The other two went in to give Covington chances at the four-point play. He pulled off the feat once.

Overall, it was another strong outing for the swingman. He finished with 24 points on 7 of 16 shooting (6 of 12 from long range). 

While most Americans are counting the days to Thanksgiving, Covington has his eyes set a little bit earlier to Nov. 15. That marks the day he can officially begin working on a new deal with the Sixers. #PayThatMan

• Embiid and Simmons continue to carry the offensive load for the Sixers, but the dynamic duo is also leading the way with miscues. Embiid and Simmons combined for nine of the team's 17 turnovers in the loss. The Kings had nine turnovers as a team on Thursday night.

• Sixers special advisor Jerry Colangelo joined the broadcast for a stretch during the first and second quarters. He touched on several topics, including  his thoughts on the team’s early-season performance.

“I’m very pleased,” Colangelo said. “I’m very excited about the future and the development of some of the young players. It truly is a process in terms of how long. It will take a while for them to mesh. At midseason we’re gonna have a much better feel for who they are.”

• Jerryd Bayless (left wrist contusion) and Markelle Fultz (right shoulder soreness/scapular muscle imbalance) were sidelined for the Sixers. Vince Carter (illness) and Harry Giles (rehab for both knees) were the only players out for the Kings.

• The Sixers’ road trip continues in California on Saturday night with a matchup against the champion Golden State Warriors (8:30 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia).

Give and Go: What should Sixers be thankful for the most?

uspresswire-sixers-embiid-brown-simmons.jpg
USA Today Images

Give and Go: What should Sixers be thankful for the most?

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Marshall Harris, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Paul Hudrick and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Matt Haughton.

In this edition, we examine what the Sixers should be thankful for the most on this Thanksgiving.

Harris
At first glance, you take a look at Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and remember that they combined for 31 games last season and the impulse is to say health. However, we can’t ignore the injuries that have befallen the team outside of those two engines. The Sixers have been hurting without the likes of Markelle Fultz, Jerryd Bayless, Nik Stauskas and Justin Anderson at their full disposal of late. So health hasn’t been their thing, really.
 
What the Sixers should be thankful for is that despite being shorthanded, they made it through 17 games of the season with a winning record. That’s in spite of 10 of those games being on the road and two games each against Golden State and Houston already in the books. 

Since a 1-4 start, the Sixers have lost just three times in their last 12 games, and two of those losses were to arguably one of the greatest teams in history in the Warriors. Suddenly everyone is reaching for their abacus or calculator, and they should be. Who had the Sixers with a winning record at Thanksgiving?
 
Here’s the thing, two weeks ago Jim Lynam told me the Sixers would be a top four seed in the East. I wasn’t ready to embrace that idea. I’m ready to admit my 39-win prediction may not be up to the task. Perhaps we all need to recognize that the Sixers, youth and all, are up to the challenge of not just squeaking into the playoffs. At their current rate of growth, they look like a team that could get the 45 wins they’re already on pace to achieve and maybe even more.

Hudrick
Health is the obvious thing to be most thankful for, but I'll take it a step further. The Sixers should be thankful that the best is yet to come.

Any other season during The Process, Markelle Fultz's situation — being the No. 1 overall pick that the team traded up to acquire that suffered a weird injury the team appeared to mishandle — would be considered a catastrophe. To say Fultz has become an afterthought would be a stretch, but his situation has certainly taken a backseat to Embiid, Simmons and the Sixers' success.

We won't know the full extent of Fultz's impact and role for quite some time. But the thought of Embiid, Simmons and Fultz on the court together should still tantalize Sixers fans. I'm still dying to see what Fultz can do in pick-and-roll situations with Embiid and even Simmons.

Am I worried about the jumper? Yeah, a little. But this is a guy who took five threes a night in college and shot 41 percent from distance. He then went on to shot 38 percent on five treys a contest during three summer league games. I still believe the shot is there. He just needs to get his confidence back and his shoulder healthy.

And don't listen to the doubters. Markelle Fultz is an excellent basketball player and was the top pick in the draft for a reason. He's not Anthony Bennett or Andrea Bargnani. This kid can play.

And the Sixers should be thankful when looking at his future.

Haughton
While Embiid already shared what he’s thankful for on this holiday, the Sixers can only look back on how they landed the budding big man and smile.

Let’s rewind a bit. Embiid was well on his way to being the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 as he averaged 11.2 points on an insane 62.6 percent shooting, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game during his lone season at Kansas. That was until he suffered a stress fracture in his back late in the season that sidelined him for the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments.

Even after the back injury, Embiid appeared on his way to locking up the top spot in the draft … until the next setback. This time it was a broken foot suffered just before the draft that cast serious doubt about his long-term health.

As Sixers fans know all too well, that troublesome foot caused Embiid to miss his first two NBA seasons. However, what they’ve witnessed since has been nothing short of spectacular. In just 46 career games, Embiid has averaged 21.0 points (48.2 percent shooting), 8.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 blocks. His superstar ability has captured the hearts of the team’s faithful, and his huge social media presence has only made them love him even more.

As for the two players taken before Embiid, their careers don’t exactly appear to be trending in the same direction. No. 1 overall selection and Embiid’s Kansas teammate, Andrew Wiggins, has shown flashes of brilliance. However, his production with the revamped Minnesota Timberwolves is down this season after signing a massive extension of his own, and questions remain about whether he can go from being a very good player to great. As for No. 2 pick Jabari Parker, he’s been a stud on the court for the Milwaukee Bucks but is recovering from a second left ACL tear since 2014.

All in all, Embiid is the prize of the crop and fell into the Sixers’ laps. So this Thanksgiving the Sixers should take a moment to reminisce about the process that brought them “The Process.”

Joel Embiid has plenty of reasons to be thankful

uspresswire-sixers-joel-embiid.jpg
USA Today Images

Joel Embiid has plenty of reasons to be thankful

Joel Embiid is very appreciative. He is healthy, signed a mega-contract and has become the face of a franchise on the rise. 

The night before Thanksgiving, following a 20-point win over the Trail Blazers, Embiid reflected on why he is thankful.

“I’m thankful for my family,” Embiid, who grew up in Cameroon, said. “I live by myself, they don’t live here. But my mom is actually here.”

Embiid’s mother took in Wednesday’s action from courtside at the Wells Fargo Center and was all smiles as her son put up 28 points (11 for 19 shooting), 12 rebounds and two blocks in the 101-81 victory (see game recap).

Embiid also recognized the Sixers’ faithful, who have pulled for him during injury after injury and never wavered from their trust in the process.

“I’m thankful for the city of Philadelphia,” Embiid said. “This has become my home and I hope to be here for the rest of my career. I’m just thankful for the fans and just everybody around me, people that have been supporting me.” 

Embiid even gave a shoutout to the media, which doesn’t always happen, especially after a team struggled for so long.

“You guys hype me up so much,” he said. “So thank you.”

And last but not least, the player with 1.02 million followers on Twitter and another 1.4 million on Instagram, Embiid is grateful for every like and retweet. 

“I’m thankful for social media,” he said. 

#Fitting. #Thankful. #HappyThanksgiving