PHILADELPHIA After yet another defeat, DeMarcus Cousins was able to find a few moments of comic relief.
He asked reporters what kind of cologne they wore and even offered to share the end of a cheesesteak he hadn't bitten into.
But when the subject turned to another night when the Kings found themselves down by double digits, Cousins took a serious tone.
Asked what the Kings had to do to avoid big deficits, like the one they couldn't overcome in an 89-80 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at Wells Fargo Center, Cousins was short and clear.
"Go ask coach (Keith) Smart," Cousins said. "I don't know. Ask Smart."
Smart was asked about the second quarter, which was the Kings' downfall for the second consecutive game. The Kings (17-31) fell behind by 19 in the second quarter after trailing by four at the end of the first period.
The Kings trailed 30-23 when they went to a lineup of five reserves less than a minute into the second quarter.
"We didn't get anything, and we didn't score," Smart said. "But these guys are pros, and when they're in the game, they've got to find a way to make plays."
By the time Smart put four of his five starters back in the game, the Kings were down 48-29.
"Before you knew it, the lead had ballooned and now you've got to start working guys back in the game," Smart said.
Marcus Thornton was the only reserve that scored in the second quarter.
Smart went to Aaron Brooks and Thornton in the first quarter to try and get them going before the second, but that didn't help.
"Somebody could say it's just the second unit, but it's not," guard Isaiah Thomas said. "We have lapses, we don't score, or we have three or four turnovers in a row. We've got to slow the other team down also, get something good on the offensive end."
The Kings, however, found some defensive effort in the third quarter, outscoring the Sixers 29-18. The Kings took a 73-72 lead on three free throws by Thomas with 10:35 left in the game.
But the Kings couldn't generate much offense from there, and the Sixers (20-26) slowly pulled away as the Kings stalled.
It was the Kings' third loss in four games on their six-game trip.
"We came in and started off good, but then things got out of hand," said guard Tyreke Evans, who led the Kings (17-31) with a season-high 29 points to go with four assists and two steals. "And we just can't be like that. The good teams always stay in the game and then find a way to pull away. We can't start from behind and then try to play up and try to get the lead."
Smart was asked what needed to change for the Kings to defend with the intensity they showed in the third quarter.
"Maybe we have to do that right off the bat ... to get everyone going," Smart said. "Even then, sometimes you do that (aggressive strategy) early, you might expose yourself a little bit. You kind of pick your game plan, when you want to do that.
"Obviously, the second quarter killed us. We had the same game plan, but we didn't have the same intensity in coverage."
Thomas had 24 points and five assists, and Cousins had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Jrue Holiday had 21 points and seven assists, and Nick Young scored 20 points.