The Sacramento Kings starters looked disinterested and ready to get home for a turkey dinner when the ball tipped off Wednesday evening at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The second team came in to give the Kings a lift, but the inconsistent play lasted all night.
Joel Embiid went to work in the post and punished the Kings. Matisse Thybulle came off the bench to give the 76ers a lift on both ends of the court and the home team held on for a 97-91 victory to send the Kings home with a 1-3 road trip.
“That’s a good team and we did not play well enough to come in and get a road win,” coach Luke Walton told reporters. “I thought we started the game a little soft, a little tentative and then I think our bench did a nice job of finding that heart and passion that we play with.”
Bogdan Bogdanovic came in to stabilize the lineup, but he wasn’t the only second-teamer to step up. Rookie Justin James brought a ton of energy and after a rough start to the season, and Dewayne Dedmon put together his best game as a King.
“He hasn’t been playing as much as he was early on in the season, he stepped up big, he was huge for us,” Harrison Barnes told reporters about the seven-footer. “Depth is something we talked about at the beginning of the season and guys are staying ready.”
The veteran center has struggled at almost every aspect of the game this season, but especially from the perimeter, where he’d hit just 8-of-37 coming into the game.
Dedmon was impactful, scoring a season-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a pair of 3-points and he chipped in six rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
“I thought he was leading out there, he was talking defensively, calling out coverages, getting to the rim, finishing when appropriate, kicking out when appropriate,” Walton said. “I thought his all-around game on both ends was really big for us.”
Before Wednesday’s game, Dedmon’s season-high in scoring was just 11 points on the season after averaging 10.8 points for the Hawks last season. The Kings desperately need the 30-year-old to find his game moving forward.
Dedmon helped keep the Kings in the game, but the Kings couldn’t buy a bucket from the perimeter, which was an issue early and then again late.
Sacramento hit just 9-of-34 from long range, including a 3-of-12 performance from leading scorer Buddy Hield. That’s a far cry from the 36.9 percent the team averages from distance on the season.
“We’ve got to knock down shots when we get em’,” Walton said. “We had a lot of open looks tonight that we didn’t knockdown.”
Hield wasn’t the only one to struggle. Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica each shot 1-of-4 from long distance and Yogi Ferrell missed his only two opportunities.
The Kings’ offense is predicated on the team hitting the long ball, especially with De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley sidelined. Unfortunately, the team has been hit or miss on the four-game road trip, which is a big reason they finished 1-3 on the eastern swing.
Sacramento flew home after the game and will have a two-day break to take in the Thanksgiving holiday and prepare for the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Bagley is inching closer to a return after missing all but the opening night game with a broken right thumb, but there is no early word on his availability.