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The Kings encountered unforeseen adversity Wednesday in the form of the Philadelphia 76ers and themselves.
The result was a 116-106 defeat by the Sixers before a disappointed crowd of 13,516 at Arco Arena.
Sacramento was thoroughly outclassed during the game’s final three quarters and truly had no one to blame.
“We weren’t ready to play,” swingman Donte Greene said. “I think we took them lightly. I know I did and that’s not the way we play.”
Kings power forward Jason Thompson said his team did not play with the usual components for success.
“They were getting to loose balls and it seemed (Philly) wanted it a little more than we did,” said Thompson, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. “(The Sixers) were scrappier than we were and that’s not the way it’s been, especially at home.”
The Kings finished their four-game home stand 1-3 after playing well in defeats to Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers as well as Monday’s victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Perhaps the Kings had been letting their adoring fan base affect their game.
That seemed to be what Kings coach Paul Westphal indicated following the loss that dropped their home record to 11-6. Granted, the Kings (14-17) played their second straight game without rookie guard Tyreke Evans (sprained right ankle), but that was no reason for a lackadaisical approach by a sub-.500 team.
“We were ripe to be picked off (Wednesday),” Westphal said. “We need to learn we’re not as good as people say we are, unless we go out and play like that. We had a chance to build a nice lead and dictate the way the game was going to be played, and we let that get away.”
Sacramento twice led by 13 points in the second quarter. Omri Casspi was a big factor, scoring 11 of his team-high 21 points in the first period. The Kings consistently searched for mismatches and found them for success at the offensive end.
Yet, they played sloppily and carelessly throughout most of the first half.
Meanwhile, the Sixers gained momentum with their ability to score virtually at will with 33 points in the second quarter. Philadelphia’s reserves had a tremendous impact with 17 of those points, led by former All-Star forward Elton Brand.
The Sixers performed at a higher level than their 9-22 record would suggest. They won their second consecutive road game by using a balanced attack that featured six players in double-figure scoring, led by guard Louis Williams' 22 points.
Veteran All-Star guard Allen Iverson's minutes are being regulated but that didn't prevent him from scoring 20 points in 32 minutes.
Iverson returned to action Monday in a victory over Portland after missing the previous four games due to left knee arthritis and a left shoulder contusion.
Philadelphia coach Eddie Jordan said Iverson has been a welcome addition to his squad.
“The guys like playing off him and he knows how to play,” said Jordan, who is a former Kings assistant and head coach. “Allen knows it’s a medical thing as far as his minutes and so do I. I’d like to play him more.
“But he gives us some things we didn’t have before.”
Iverson said dealing with the reduced minutes is tough on him.
“It’s one of the most frustrating things that I’m dealing with because I’ve never had to deal with it in my career,” he said. “Hopefully, I can get through it mentally, then I don’t have to deal with it late in the season.”
The Kings had to deal with their own inconsistencies throughout the night. The game was tied 76-all late in the third quarter when swingman Rodney Carney came off the bench to stick three consecutive three-point goals. The nine points spanned 2:22 of the third and fourth quarters to give Philadelphia a working margin that never dropped below a four-point advantage.
The Kings continued to struggle to convert around the basket and had the game’s outcome been decided by missed layups, Sacramento would have won by a blowout.