Robert Covington wows again
His fifth game of the season with 20-plus points was soured as the Sixers' five-game win streak was broken in Sacramento. He finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, a steal, and just one turnover against the Kings. Despite the loss, Covington continues to prove that he is one of the most valuable players on the Sixers roster and will be an integral piece moving forward.
Too little, too late
Coming into the third, trailing by seven points, the Sixers outscored Sacramento 24-20, but committed seven turnovers, slowing down their chances against the Kings. It wasn't until late in the fourth when the Sixers finally started to create some breathing room with a lead. But the Kings fired back with 11 fourth-quarter points from Justin Jackson, great defense from Willie Cauley-Stein, and the winning bucket from fellow rookie De'Aaron Fox. In recent games the Sixers have done a good job at cleaning up their errors to pull away in the end, but they didn't seem to have that resolve against the struggling Sacramento squad.
The importance of Ben Simmons
A possible reason for the Sixers delayed response in the second half could have been the absence of Ben Simmons. At the 10:43 mark in the third quarter Simmons picked up his fourth foul and didn't return until the next period. Simmons is such a dynamic player that his absence is felt just as much as that of Joel Embiid because of his length, speed, vision, and scoring ability. When he returned in the final quarter of the game he quickly drew fouls, putting the Kings above the limit with more than nine minutes left to play. Late in fourth Simmons grabbed a steal and dunk in the backcourt and started a run that looked like it could have given the Sixers the bounce they needed. He finished with 18 points and six assists, but it could have been more if he had avoided foul trouble early on.
Sacramento shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and just over 61 percent from three. The Kings' bench was particularly impressive, shooting 6-of-8 from deep in the first two quarters. Sacramento's reserve unit outscored the Sixers bench 56-17 in the Kings' third win of the season. That says just as much about the ability of the Kings second unit as it does about the need for the Sixers second unit to be able to step up.
The Sixers are no stranger to struggles with turnovers and though sometimes they win despite the miscues, they were clearly hurt by them in Sacramento. The Sixers committed 17 turnovers to the Kings' nine, giving up 19 points in total from the mistakes. More important is that 11 of the Sixers turnovers came in the second half as they were attempting to stage a comeback.