Struggling Kings, 76ers look to end skids
PHILADELPHIA — Two teams in free fall will square off Tuesday night when the Philadelphia 76ers host the Sacramento Kings.
Sacramento (9-20) lost 108-93 to the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday, its second consecutive defeat and its third in four games.
The Sixers, meanwhile, fell 117-115 to the lowly Bulls in Chicago on Monday. They too have dropped two in a row, as well as six of seven, to slip to 14-15. Philadelphia, which rested center Joel Embiid, is under .500 for the first time since Oct. 30, when it was 3-4.
Dario Saric scored a season-high 27 points to lead seven Sixers in double figures, and rookie Ben Simmons finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Philadelphia turned a 12-point, third-quarter deficit into a 105-96 lead with 5:51 left in the game. The Sixers were still up 107-99 with 3:49 left, but the Bulls reeled off the next 13 points to go ahead for good.
The Sixers had a chance to tie it in the closing seconds, but Simmons came up empty on a drive.
“You get Ben Simmons in a slot drive, I’ll take that all day, every day,” coach Brett Brown told NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Simmons drew contact, to no avail.
“I knew I was going to take a shot (or was) trying to get to the rim or try to get a foul,” he told the same outlet. “It’s hard to get a foul in the final quarter of a game like that. The refs aren’t going to call anything like that. It was a chance to win, but it didn’t happen.”
Embiid is expected to return against the Kings, but Philadelphia still will be without forward Trevor Booker (ankle) and guard/forward Justin Anderson (shin splints).
Philadelphia guard Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in this year’s draft, has not played since the season’s fourth game because of a shoulder injury.
Sacramento rookie guard De’Aaron Fox, who hit a game-winning jumper in a 109-108 victory over Philadelphia on Nov. 9, did not play Sunday against Toronto because of a bruised right thigh. His status for the Tuesday game was unknown.
Veteran center Zach Randolph, who rested against the Raptors, will return to face the 76ers.
Bogdan Bogdanovic and Garrett Temple had 18 points each for Sacramento on Sunday, which built a 63-61 halftime lead but faded.
“It was a high-scoring affair in the first half,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We made a lot of shots, they made some shots. They evened their game out by getting to the foul line a lot more than we did. …
“The game got away from us a little bit in the third quarter with some turnovers, but I also have to give them a lot of credit, their second unit came in with a lot of energy defensively, pushed us around the court, pressured some catches … and kind of got us out of our rhythm.”
Vince Carter, the 40-year-old ex-Raptor, scored four points in what could have been his final visit to Toronto.
“I still love being here and there’s nothing like it,” Carter said afterward.
Sacramento has been without rookie center/forward Harry Giles all season. He had surgery on both knees and is out until at least February.
Guard Malachi Richardson also sat out the Sunday game with an ankle injury. His status for Tuesday was unclear.