SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Finally.
The 76ers finally ended their road losing streak, beating the Sacramento Kings, 125-108, Thursday night at Golden 1 Center.
This marked their first road win since beating the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 20. Since then, the Sixers (38-25) had lost nine straight. This victory improved them to 10-23 on the road.
“When you hear a date like that, you are reminded that enough is enough,” coach Brett Brown said. “I think they just came out of Los Angeles playing a Clipper team that we felt like we could have won the game. [Against] the Lakers, we had the seven-minute period in the second period. Other than that, I felt we played well.”
The Sixers received moral road victories in a Sunday’s 136-130 loss to the Western Conference’s second-place Clippers and Tuesday’s 120-107 setback to the West’s first-place Lakers.
But Thursday night’s victory was real. It also marked Philly’s first victory in Sacramento since Dec. 30, 2015. Since then, they had lost three straight in California’s state capital.
The undermanned Sixers used a balanced attack to get a much-needed road win.
Tobias Harris finished with game highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds. Nineteen of his points came in the first half. Shake Milton added 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Al Horford looked like the Al Horford of the past, finishing with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. He was career-best plus-41 for the game.
Mike Scott (11 points) and reserves guards Alec Burks (17) and Raul Neto (16) were the other double-figure scorers.
But this victory came as Philly was without three key starters — All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid — plus Josh Richardson. All are dealing with injuries.
This marked the sixth game Simmons missed with a pinched nerve in his lower back. Embiid has missed four games with a left shoulder sprain. And Richardson sat out his second game in the NBA’s concussion protocol.
Like in Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Sixers had a starting lineup of Harris, Scott, Horford, Matisse Thybulle, and Milton. Of the group, Harris and Horford were the only opening-day starters, and Horford was demoted from the starting lineup on Feb. 11 against the Clippers. He returned on Feb. 24 against the Atlanta Hawks after Simmons’ injury.
Harris and Horford had off shooting night’s in Tuesday’s setback. But the two bounced back against Sacramento.
Harris (6) and Horford (5) combined to score 11 of the Sixers’ first 15 points. That enabled them to take a nine-point cushion 7 minutes, 48 seconds into the first quarter. Philly went on a take a commanding 30-18 lead. However, the Sixers took out Horford and Harris and the Kings responded with a 12-0 run to knot the score with 47.8 seconds remaining in the 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. Horford and Harris both finished the first quarter with 10 points.
Harris went on to add nine points in the second quarter, leading the Sixers to a 63-53 halftime cushion. The third quarter was Neto’s time to step up.
The Sixers backup point guard scored 14 of his points in that quarter. Philly went on to build a 20-point cushion. However, the Kings closed the gap to six points with 4:58 remaining.
That’s when Harris and Horford stepped up.
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 at the 2:05 mark to give the Sixers a 118-106 lead. The Sixers went on to outscore the Kings, 13-2, in the final 4:05.
“That jumper by Tobias really set the tone for us,” Horford said, "because they were on their way back. And, yeah, we made some plays down the stretch to seal it.
“It just feel good, man. It feels good to win Like I said, we’ve been in some battles. I don’t think we’ve played that bad recently on the road. We just haven’t been able to win.”