The Kings have lacked energy defensively.
Maybe that’s because Quincy Acy hasn’t played enough.
After another first half in which Sacramento looked headed for another going-through-the-motions defeat, Acy started the second half and added some pep to the lineup.
So rather than head into the All-Star break on a five-game losing streak, the Kings rallied to avoid losing to the team with the worst record in the NBA and edged the Philadelphia 76ers 114-110 on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
A win over the 76ers doesn’t put all the issues that led to the Kings losing four in a row and eight of their previous nine entering Wednesday behind them. The Kings still started slow, still gave up multiple career highs and struggled to keep the 76ers from making three-pointers.
Acy didn’t play in the first half when Philadelphia scored 66 points, but he started the third quarter, which is when the Kings began to show more life.
“Just come out there and do what I’m called to do,” Acy said. “And that’s provide a spark anyway I can.”
Quincy, that’s our heart. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, doesn’t get the playing time he deserves. Everybody in this locker room respects that guy, and we know what he’s going to bring every second of the game.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins on Quincy Acy
Acy’s stats were modest – six points and four rebounds and two blocks in less than 15 minutes. What can’t be measured is how his style rubs off on his teammates.
“Quincy, that’s our heart,” said Kings’ All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. “He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, doesn’t get the playing time he deserves. Everybody in this locker room respects that guy, and we know what he’s going to bring every second of the game.”
It took Acy’s heart and Darren Collison’s hand off the bench (25 points) to shake the doldrums of the first half.
The Kings trailed by 17 in the third quarter but outscored the 76ers 39-23 in the fourth quarter.
“Darren Collison and Quincy Acy, I thought they were magnificent,” said Kings coach George Karl. “I thought our life – we had very little energy – so Quincy started the second half and had a great eight, nine minutes, and then I put him back in (to close the game).”
Lately, Acy has looked more energetic cheering on his teammates than the players on the court. Acy is always standing up, cheering, encouraging and staying engaged. He’s also studying what’s happening on the court.
“We talk amongst each other on the bench,” Acy said. “Caron’s (Butler) very vocal on the bench. I sit next to (assistant coach) Corliss (Williamson), so you know he’s always in my ear telling me things. That helps me a lot because I get to see it from a different perspective and then go out there and apply myself.”
With how the game started, it looked as if the Kings might be in vacation mode.
They’d already dropped the first three games of the four-game trip, and with the All-Star break looming, it seemed as if getting away from the recent drama surrounding Karl’s coaching status and the losing were more important than the winning.
The Kings, however, did what they haven’t done lately. They fought back to take the lead, and for the first time on the trip, made some defensive plays late.
“It’s kind of a gutty, gritty win for us,” Karl said. “It’s a situation where I’ve seen a lot of teams just throw this one in, and they didn’t do it.”
The Kings aren’t where they want to be as they enter the All-Star break. They’re 22-31, 4 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But a win, any win, was something the Kings hope can begin to erase the cloud that’s been hanging over the team lately.
“In this league it’s so hard to win games, and you can easily go into a losing streak,” Collison said. “You saw that happen to us. Regardless of who we were playing, Philly played hard tonight; we were able to get a win.”
It helped the Kings that the 76ers, who play hard, have a tendency to falter late and lose close games.