Philadelphia 76ers Get Win #3 With Impressive Team Effort vs Kings


The Philadelphia 76ers got their third win this season defeating the Sacramento Kings tonight 110-105

The first half of tonight’s game was a relatively high scoring one with less than perfect defense displayed by both squads. Ish Smith got off to a hot start getting a quick two baskets and a steal early as both teams came out playing at a fast pace.

One of my keys to victory for the Sixers in the game preview was to keep the Ism Smith-Nerlens Noel combo going, and the two did just that. Smith assisted Noel on both Pick&Rolls and in the fast break as the Sixers forced double digit turnovers well before the second half was over.

The Sixers did a great job penetrating thanks to “Dish Smith” and scored 36 points in the paint in the first half. Even guys like Isaiah Canaan, and Hollis Thompson were having success getting into the painted area against a lackadaisical Kings team.

Jahlil Okafor looked comfortable in his first minutes returning from right knee soreness playing well with both starters, and the bench unit. Big Jah attracts quite a bit of attention when the backups are on the floor, so that opened up a few double team pass outs for 3.

Although the team defense was average as a whole in the first 24 minutes, Jerami Grant, and Nerlens Noel were a bright spot showing yet again that they are far and away the best defensive duo The Sixers can use in their front court.

For the Kings, their standout Center Demarcus Cousins managed an impressive 11 point first quarter only to be stifled by Grant in the second. With just 2 points in the second quarter, Cousins was noticeably frustrated with Jerami’s tough defense that included a couple rough missed-block-attempt fouls.

The first half came to a close with the game tied 57-57.

In the Second half the Sixers continued their impressive offensive output as 6 different players found their way into double figures by the games end. Penetration was once again abundant seemingly no matter who was driving.

The Kings rotation on defense was horrendous, and they weren’t being helped out by the refs either. They were certainly calling the game both ways if not a little pro-Sixers at times. It takes quite a bit for me to say that because the young Sixers rarely find themselves on the right end on calls.

As the third quarter progressed, the Sixers jumped out to an 11 point lead thanks to a 16-5 run at the hands of Ishmael Smith, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Canaan and Nerlens Noel. All four men had 15+ in this game, and played well defensively in the second half. Canaan was his usual hot and cold self, but was the guy who gave the Sixers the lead, and they never looked back.

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Once they gained the lead in the third, the Sixers did a great job holding it. There were several instances where the Kings were coming back within 2-4 points, and each time the 76ers were able to hang onto their lead by playing solid low-post defense, and forcing a cold Sacramento team to shoot.

The only ones who really excelled offensively for the Kings in this game were Cousins, who made it to the line 10 times, and Marco Belinelli who has been quite cold this year actually. The Italian vet shook off his recent struggles, and scored 28 points off the bench.

When the game was winding down The Sixers were still keeping the Kings at arms length, something they couldn’t do against the Jazz. I was really impressed with how well the starting unit played together down the stretch. There were no horrific turnovers or sloppy mistakes, in fact the Sixers had only 13 TOs compared to the Kings’ 22.

They led the Kings in every major statistical category besides tying with 23 assists each. That kind of overall dominance on the road is what gives fans a glimmer of hope. Perhaps a few of these guys on this team could be keepers after all.

Quote of the game

Smith and Noel connected with two more alley oops in the second half making it three total, and when asked by CSN’s Molly French after the game about Ish, Nerlens Noel replied with a simple “I love that guy.”

Grant flys high

The star of the game was without a doubt Jerami Grant. The Syracuse Alumni combined his 16 points with 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and an impressive 5 blocks. With Nerlens Noel covering the Strongside of the Kings Offense (A posting up Boogie Cousins) Jerami was the weak side surprise waiting for Kings players heading to the basket. He was all over the floor tonight, and showed off why he belongs in the starting lineup if Brett Brown is going to keep Noel, and Okafor separate.

Stauskas struggles

The disappointment of the game was without a doubt Nik Stauskas. He is a combine 1-14 in these last two games, and I really thought he would’ve put up a better performance against his former team. The extra motivation seemed to have no effect on him however as managed just 3 points in 19 minutes of play, and continued to be passive. What’s most bothersome is he has the opportunities too. I counted at least 3 maybe 4 wide open threes that did not fall for what people called a “sharp shooter” in college.

Okafor shows progress in weaker areas.

The surprise of the night to me was Jahlil Okafor’s improvement in rebounding, and low post defense. He was glued to Boogie Cousins the best he could be when he had the opportunity, shut down Kosta Kufos, and didn’t seem have that lack of awareness we’ve seen in the past. He also was a beast on the boards when he got the chance. Jahlil brought in 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes of play.

With the Sixers firing on all cylinders without Okafor in the starting lineup, perhaps this could be his new role going forward until he further improves his mid range shot, and defense. With how much success Nerlens Noel is having at the Center position, you can’t imagine Brett Brown will want to change this strategy. After all, They are 2-1 in their last three…Almost 3-0.

More 76ers: Are the Sixers Better Without Okafor?

So what does that say about Ish Smith’s impact? Well I think it’s safe to say that the NBA journeyman has found a home in Philadelphia, and I imagine he will be the key to the offense for the next few months. What a turn around this has been for this team, all stemming from acquiring one guy.

Next up for the Sixers is a two game stint in Los Angeles where the Sixers will face the Lakers and Clippers on back-to-back nights to bring in the new year. Until then it looks like it will be a L.A. New Years Eve for the Sixers. Here’s to hoping everyone keeps their fists to themselves.