SACRAMENTO, Calif. — What’s up, folks?
If you’re feeling like the 76ers felt last night, you are definitely going to have a great day and weekend. The Sixers were in a joyous mood last night after a long-overdue road victory. They defeated the Sacramento Kings, 125-108, at Golden 1 Center to snap a nine-game road losing streak.
After the game, the Sixers bused to San Francisco for today’s optional practice and tomorrow’s game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center.
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Was signing Al Horford a mistake?
The Sixers gave him $97 million guaranteed over four seasons to play alongside Joel Embiid and be an insurance policy for the often-injured big man. But the team and Horford have been criticized for his not being a good complement to Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Some have even said that the game has passed the 33-year-old Horford by. Well, it sure didn’t appear that way Thursday night at Golden 1 Center.
In fact, his performance against the Kings (27-35) validates why the Sixers felt a need to sign him.
Horford collected 18 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in 36 minutes, 21 seconds. He was a career-best plus-41 for the game.
The 13th-year veteran, who signed with the Sixers in July, was asked if this was his best game with the team.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I mean, it’s definitely one of the best ones. I don’t if it’s the best one. I’m not sure about that.
“I’m just happy we got a road win.”
Horford looked like the Al Horford of the past, quarterbacking the team from the post. His passes kept finding open teammates on the perimeter.
“I just think when we are moving the ball like that, we are playing that way, that’s when we are at our best,” he said. “Guys, it also helps them get some easy looks, get some confidence going.
“I just want us to continue to play that way as a group, just making the game easy for each other.”
When the Sixers needed a bucket, Horford also came through. With Horford and Tobias Harris out of the game, the Kings responded with a 12-0 run to knot the score at 30 with 47.8 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Sixers coach Brett Brown called a timeout and inserted Horford back in the game. He responded with a 9-foot hook shot to give the Sixers a 32-30 lead heading into the second quarter.
Then he and Harris stepped up after the Kings closed the gap to six points with 4:58 remaining in the game.
Harris’ 10-foot jumper gave the Sixers a 114-106 lead with 4:05 to play. Then Horford’s dunk with 3:33 remaining made it a 116-106 game. The big man added a pair of foul shots with 2:05 left to give the Sixers a 118-106 lead. The Sixers outscored the Kings, 13-2, in the final 4:05.
“Al is a pro, man,” Mike Scott said. “I’m always behind him. He’s my guy. He was my vet my rookie year [with the Atlanta Hawks]. So I’m always in his corner.
“He did great tonight.”
If Thursday’s game at the Chase Center is any indication, the Sixers-Warriors matchup tomorrow night is going to be thrilling.
Call it the Steph Curry factor.
The Warriors’ two-time league MVP finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a 121-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors last night. The point guard was just 6-for-16 from the field and 3-for-12 on three-pointers in the rematch of the 2019 Finals.
Curry was understandably rusty, playing for the first time after four months of rehabilitation on his broken hand.
“It felt great. There was a lot of energy," Curry told the media. "The anticipation for getting back out there tonight, just getting out on the floor and seeing what was going to happen. It’s kind of a cool moment just with the excitement and energy in the building.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect with the minutes restrictions and all that, just trying to make my first shot and get comfortable out there. Throughout the 27 minutes, it felt good.”
The Sixers can only hope that he doesn’t feel better tomorrow night.
Tomorrow: Sixers at Golden State Warriors, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Wednesday: Detroit Pistons at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
March 14: Indiana Pacers at Sixers, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
March 16: Washington Wizards at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
March 18: Toronto Raptors at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Send questions by email or on Twitter (@PompeyOnSixers)
Question: If we underachieve in the playoffs what big changes could we see happening? — @XhanderLaFlame on Twitter
Answer: Thanks for the great question. The expectation is that the biggest change will be the person coaching the team. It is believed that Brown will lose his job if the Sixers fail to advance deep in the playoffs.
It’s not his fault that the pieces don’t fit. But as the coach, he will get the blame for this team’s not living up to the preseason hype if the Sixers have another second-round playoff exit.