The Philadelphia 76ers were in a tough spot on Saturday as they were down big in the first half against a very good Sacramento Kings team. Without Joel Embiid and James Harden, they were in the trenches. They were sloppy with the ball on offense and they couldn’t get any stops on defense.
This could have been the perfect excuse game, but the Sixers instead dug deep and they rallied in order to pull off a 129-127 victory and complete a 5-0 road trip.
Everything changed in the third quarter as Tyrese Maxey took more control of this one. He finished with 32 points on the night with 15 coming in a big third quarter that swung the momentum back toward Philadelphia.
“I was telling them that I was going to come out aggressive in the third and I think in the first and the second, I was letting them dictate the shots that I was taking,” Maxey told reporters. “I wanted to be able to dictate the pace of the offense and get us into what we need to get into and dictate the shots that we needed to take. I think I did that for the most part in the third quarter and I think we all kind of just rallied together after that.”
Maxey shot just 4-for-12 in the first half for 11 points and that just wasn’t going to get the job done. The Sixers still scored 64 points in the first half despite his struggles, but without the two stars, they needed Maxey to really kick it into high gear.
Maxey’s big performance was almost wasted when Matisse Thybulle fouled Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes while shooting a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left and the Sixers up by three. Barnes, however, missed the first free-throw, made the second, and then intentionally missed the third in order to get another shot, but Paul Reed had a big rebound in order to get this one done.
“The last few seconds in that game was crazy, man,” Maxey laughed. “He missed the first one so now we tried to sub in guys and trying to get the right guys in there to get this rebound. P-Reed goes in there and he grabs a rebound falling down the floor and that was huge. Trez (Montrezl Harrell) with a box out, Tuck (PJ Tucker) with a box out and we were able to win the game.”