Give De’Aaron Fox the jumper. That’s the scouting report.
With the game on the line, the Philadelphia 76ers backed off Fox, and he made them pay with a 19-foot pull-up jumper with 14.1 seconds to play over Robert Covington, perhaps their best perimeter defender, to give the Kings a 109-108 victory Thursday night at Golden 1 Center.
The Kings have won two in a row after dropping seven consecutive games.
Zach Randolph led the Kings (3-8) with 20 points. Justin Jackson had 19 points and Willie Cauley-Stein had perhaps his most impressive showing of the season with 15 points and doing all he could defensively to stop Joel Embiid.
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Fox finished with 11 points and seven assists. The Kings made a season-high 12 3-pointers.
Covington led the Sixers (6-5) with 24 points. Embiid had 22 points and 15 rebounds. Ben Simmons had 18 points and six assists.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
The Kings look a lot different at the start when their energy player, Cauley-Stein, plays energized. He scored nine points in the first quarter and looked lively – instead of looking like a prime candidate for the first player to be benched by coach Dave Joerger.
Cauley-Stein isn’t a primary scoring option. His job is to rebound, set screens, set up his teammates and defend. But maybe some early touches are what it takes to keep Cauley-Stein engaged on a nightly basis.
He probably drew some extra motivation by knowing he faced a tough matchup against Embiid, whose shot he blocked with 25.1 seconds to play to keep the Kings in the game.
The homecourt advantage
The Kings had two uninspiring efforts at home before their last trip. Now they’ve won their last two games in Sacramento and could be building the foundation to making Golden 1 Center a tough place to play.
The Kings gave their fans a reason to be into the game by not falling behind big, and then played with energy the entire game, which hadn’t been the case to start the season.
The second unit has the juice now
Kosta Koufos (eight points, 12 rebounds), Buddy Hield, Jackson and Fox made for a potent bench unit.
The group instantly picks up the pace with Fox firmly grasping the idea that he needs to be aggressive from the start lately. The bench accounted for 56 points against the Sixers.