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Sixers’ offense hums in drubbing of the Kings

The Sixers produced perhaps the strongest and most balanced offensive effort of the season.

Sacramento Kings v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

That was easy.... too easy....

The Sixers rolled the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night, 123-103. James Harden, and the team at large, caught fire in the second quarter, putting up 41 points and taking a 25-point lead into the break that they wouldn’t give back. They’ve started their seven-game homestand with three straight wins and sit at 15-12 overall.

Harden had one of his best performances of the season, dropping 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, along with seven boards and 15 assists. Joel Embiid had another casual 30-point night, putting up 31 points on just 16 shots.

The Sixers were without De’Anthony Melton, who has been dealing with back stiffness for some time now. Matisse Thybulle replaced him in the starting lineup. Danuel House Jr. also missed his third straight game with a foot laceration, despite being listed as probable.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First quarter

  • Thybulle picked up two fouls within the first 40 seconds of the game, forcing him to the bench only two minutes into the game. Not ideal when you’re short on guard depth. Ultimately, this ended up not mattering that much!
  • The whistles would become a pattern in the opening period. Embiid drew two early fouls on Domantas Sabonis, and then three on Sabonis’ replacement, Neemias Queta. The big fella took nine free throws in the first quarter alone.
  • The highlight of Embiid’s 16-point first had to be when he blocked Davion Mitchell, recovered, and found Tobias Harris for a dunk in transition. Harris had himself quite the first quarter, putting up 14 points on 10 shots. A 39-point first quarter gave Philly a seven-point lead.

Second quarter

  • I had a De’Anthony Melton joke lined up for James Harden, as he had four steals before taking a shot, then caught fire from the field. He is the only NBA player since 1997 to have at least 15 points, 10 assists and five steals in a half, per Stathead.
  • Harden certainly had his jumper falling, but he was also phenomenal as a facilitator during this stretch, as his 10 first-half assists would indicate. He did an excellent job of drawing double teams and setting up his teammates. He found P.J. Tucker for a couple threes and was even able to get Embiid some wide-open driving lanes.
  • Everything was coming up Sixers in the second quarter. But something they really did well during this time was ending possessions. Through the first 14 minutes of the game, the Kings grabbed seven offensive rebounds. They only grabbed one during the last 10 minutes of the half, as the Sixers took a 25-point lead into the break.

Third quarter

  • A fairly unremarkable third quarter, as the teams spent most of it trading baskets. The Kings were able to make a dent in the Sixers’ lead, cutting it to 18 going into the fourth. While it didn’t hamper them too much, the Sixers still got crushed in second-chance points, losing 22-7.
  • Shake Milton had a solid scoring game tonight. His 14 points led the Sixers bench, with 10 of those coming in the second half.

Fourth quarter

  • It was very encouraging, especially after the Lakers game, to see the Sixers put away the Kings after Sacramento ended the third with some momentum. They had cut it down to 15 with 10 minutes left, plenty of time to make it a game, but the Sixers, for once, slammed the door shut.
  • If there is one complaint, it is that Harden played too many minutes. Harden played 36 minutes, despite the game not being close since the second quarter. It also seemed weird because the Kings emptied their bench before the Sixers did.
  • The Sixers will try to stretch their winning streak to four when the Golden State Warriors come to town Friday night.

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