It had all the signs of a humiliating loss for the 76ers.
Shooting guard Jason Richardson was sidelined because he hasn't been cleared to play on back-to-back nights. The Sixers also were having a tough time stopping Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
To make matters worse, the Kings had a commanding 18-point cushion with 8 minutes, 46 seconds left in third quarter.
But things started to change in their favor in what turned out to be a 114-107 Sixers victory Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
"It was a complete identity theft that we had," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of his team's lackluster first-half effort. "We flipped it in a way that we needed to."
After gradually chipping away at Sacramento's lead, the Sixers (15-50) went on a 20-5 run. It was capped by Hollis Thompson's three-pointer that gave them an 81-80 lead with 2:25 left in the quarter.
The lead seesawed before the Sixers extended their cushion to 13 points on Jerami Grant's foul shot with 9:56 remaining. The Kings (22-42) pulled within three points (106-103) with 1:15 remaining.
But the Sixers responded once again. This time, reserve point guard Ish Smith assisted on Nerlens Noel's alley-oop dunk with 41.9 seconds left. Then Smith hit a pair of foul shots to make it a 110-103 game with 27.9 ticks remaining.
The Sixers added four foul shots down the stretch to seal the seven-point victory.
"We did a great job transitioning into the second half with just overall defense," said Noel, whose squad held the Kings to 43 second-half points after surrendering 42 in the second quarter.
"Hats off to this guy right here, Henry Sims. He did a fantastic job coming in. He made a lot of big plays down the stretch."
Sims, who didn't play in the last three games, was inserted only because Brown felt the Sixers needed defensive stability.
So he checked into the game with 2:59 left in the third quarter and quickly made a difference on both ends of the floor.
Cousins finished with game highs of 39 points and 24 rebounds. Eleven of his point came in the fourth quarter, which is impressive on the surface. But Sims' presence forced Cousins to shot just 2 for 8 in the final quarter. He made 12 of 24 shots overall.
Sims also made 4 of 5 shots to finish with eight points, four rebounds, and a steal in 11:36.
"I felt fine when I was out there," the third-year veteran said of playing for the first time in four games. "I felt like I hadn't missed a beat."
He was a part of the Sixers' balanced effort.
Swingman Robert Covington scored 19 of his team-high 24 points before intermission. Noel added 16 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and a block. Grant (13 points), Smith (10 points, nine assists), Thompson (10 points), Luc Mbah a Moute (10 points), and JaKarr Sampson (10 points) were their other double-digit scorers.
The Sixers, however, had their hands full with Cousins, as expected.
The NBA all-star was tied for sixth in the NBA in scoring (23.3 points per game) and was third in rebounding (12.2) heading into the game.
Cousins used his overpowering 6-foot-11, 270-pound frame to his advantage.
Dominating from the start, the former Kentucky standout had his 40th double-double locked up before intermission. Cousins had 15 points and 10 rebounds midway through the second quarter.