Instant Observations: Harris’ 37 Points Powers 76ers to Shorthanded Win Over Kings

Instant Observations: Harris’ 37 Points Powers 76ers to Shorthanded Win Over Kings Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Tobias Harris scored a season-high 37 points to power the Philadelphia 76ers (24-13) to a 112-93 win over the Sacramento Kings (23-15) on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The win ended the Sixers’ three-game losing streak.

Tyrese Maxey added in 21 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. The Sixers were missing Joel Embiid and Robert Covington due to left knee inflammation. Kelly Oubre Jr. was a late scratch because of right big toe soreness.

The Kings were led De’Aaron Fox, who finished with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists. Domantas Sabonis totaled 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Sacramento was without Kevin Huerter (left ankle sprain).

The Sixers’ next game is a home matchup with the Houston Rockets on Monday afternoon. Here are some instant observations from the win over the Kings:

Harris’ masterpiece performance carries Sixers

There have been plenty of games this season where Harris inexplicably disappears from the action. This game against the Kings was not one of them. With the Sixers ice cold to begin the game offensively, Harris took it upon himself to get the team going. He asserted himself in the paint, using a combination of strength and finesse to finish multiple times around the rim. At one point in the first quarter, he drove past Chris Duarte and punched it down through the contact.

Harris scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the first half. The Sixers changed up their usage for Harris, utilizing him more as a screener and driver. The results were great, with Harris consistently getting into the paint and either finishing or drawing a foul. Once it was clear he was on a heater, the Sixers did a good job drawing up plays to keep him going. He took advantage of mismatches multiple times in the first half, successfully putting Sacramento’s guards on an island in the post and going to work.

While Harris was great offensively, his defense against Sabonis was nearly as impressive. He was tasked with the difficult defensive assignment of covering Sabonis, and he took it in stride. He forced a pair of Sabonis turnovers in the opening few minutes. Additionally, Harris battled in the post and used his strength to prevent Sabonis from consistently establishing good position around the paint. Harris’ strong defensive effort held Sabonis to just two points in the first half. Coming off a brutal defensive performance against the Atlanta Hawks, Harris’ ability to recover in this game was impressive to watch.

A quiet, but effective Maxey game

The Kings threw a ton of different looks defensively at Maxey, including consistently doubling him around screens and forcing the ball out of his hands. Maxey mostly did an effective job handling the extra attention. Despite getting off to a slow start scoring the basketball, he eventually got into rhythm. He went on a personal 5-0 run early in the second quarter, recording a steal and layup in transition before stealing the ball again and knocking down a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer.

Maxey impacted the game as a scorer from all over the floor. While Sacramento made it difficult for Maxey to get into the paint, he still managed to make a few impressive finishes at the rim. In the second quarter, he somehow managed to hang in the air for multiple seconds before finishing through contact. He also had an efficient night from 3-point range, connecting on 3 of his 6 attempts in this game. His brief shooting slump is potentially in the past as he is shooting 7-of-17 (41.2%) from deep over his past two games.

Maxey’s decision making was the most impressive part of his performance. He read the floor well, finding the open man more often than not. While the results did not show up in the box score, his passing and decision making were both on point. He did not force shots and effectively made the right plays throughout the night.

Reed, Bamba lock down the paint defensively

The Sixers’ interior defense naturally tends to suffer on the nights Embiid is out of the lineup. Against Sacramento, both Paul Reed and Mo Bamba effectively flipped the script. Reed got the start at center and reminded everyone in the Delaware Valley of why they were excited when the Sixers re-signed him this past offseason. He erased multiple shots around the rim in addition to crashing the offensive glass hard and scoring a couple buckets. His minutes were chaotic at times, as per usual, but his performance provided a bit of everything on the floor. Reed totaled eight points, seven rebounds, two steals and three blocks in the win over the Kings.

In the minutes Reed was on the bench, Bamba came in and continued his string of recent positive performances. His interior defense, something that has been absolutely brutal at times, was superb against Sacramento. He swallowed up multiple layup attempts and made it difficult for Sacramento to score anything from inside the paint. Bamba even had it going offensively, knocking down a couple 3-pointer and making a few nice finishes around the basket. He finished the game with 11 points, three rebounds, four blocks and a steal in 20 minutes.

Both Reed and Bamba earned a shoutout from Maxey in his halftime interview on the ESPN telecast. Their efforts defensively were key to making things difficult for the high-powered Kings offense.

Another all-around performance for Batum

Nic Batum can provide a bit of everything, from strong defense to smart passing to floor spacing and good rebounding. The Frenchman did all of those things against the Kings with extreme efficiency. He effectively spaced the floor, drilling all four of his attempts from long distance. Whenever there was a loose rebound, Batum was there to gather it up. He created a multitude of extra possessions, grabbing four offensive rebounds. Batum is the perfect role player for this team precisely because of the hustle and versatility he showcased against the Kings.

No Springer minutes?

It is hard to believe Jaden Springer did not see time on the floor, outside of three minutes in garbage time, following his excellent defensive showing against Trae Young on Wednesday. Head coach Nick Nurse elected to go with Danuel House Jr. as the ninth man in the rotation against the Kings. Springer not being in the rotation in a game where the team was missing multiple wing players says a lot about his role, or lack thereof, on this team.

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