The Kings trailed by 16 in the third quarter with their starting backcourt out for the game.
Perfect time to mentally check out and get ready for Wednesday night’s game at Brooklyn, right?
That didn’t happen.
The Kings showed resolve and used a dominant fourth quarter to knock off the Philadelphia 76ers 101-95 Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center to sweep the season series, 2-0.
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Sacramento’s defensive intensity was noticeably higher in the final frame, when the Kings outscored the 76ers 30-19 and Philadelphia shot 5 of 19.
Zach Randolph led the Kings (10-20) with 27 points. Off the bench, Buddy Hield had 24 points and Frank Mason III had 16 points. The Kings forced 20 turnovers that led to 21 points, helping them overcome a 53-39 rebounding disadvantage.
The Kings were shorthanded in the backcourt. George Hill missed the game due to illness. De’Aaron Fox (right thigh) exited at halftime. He missed Sunday’s game at Toronto with a bruised right thigh.
The Sixers (14-16) were without center Joel Embiid (back).
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Randolph restores order
Randolph’s importance was magnified in the third quarter. Facing a 16-point deficit, Randolph simply refused to let the Kings get blown out and went to work for 10 of his points in the period.
Randolph is the Kings’ run stopper because he can be relied on to get a quality shot.
He sat out Sunday’s game at Toronto for rest and the Kings missed the stability the 16-year veteran adds.
The bench was back
Thanks to Hield and Mason, the Kings’ bench again was the source of energy it has been for most of the season.
In Sunday’s loss at Toronto, the lack of juice from the second unit was noticeable, especially given how much more zip Toronto’s bench players had.
With the backcourt injuries piling up Tuesday, the Kings needed all they could get from their reserves.
You never know who might be needed
Malachi Richardson had only played in 13 games this season, and most of those appearances were brief.
But the second-year guard was playing important minutes in the fourth quarter Tuesday as the Kings had to continue to adjust the lineup due to injuries.
It’s cliché to say everyone who is active has to be ready to play at any moment. But this season, it’s true.