Kings take advantage of Embiid-less 76ers
PHILADELPHIA — Zach Randolph, the Sacramento Kings’ veteran forward, has made himself at home in the low post his entire 17-year career.
It was that much cozier for him Tuesday night without Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid there to challenge him.
Randolph scored 27 points, and the Kings erased a 16-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the skidding Sixers 101-95.
The 36-year-old veteran called it a team win, but he led the charge by making 12 of 19 shots from the floor while Embiid sat out his second consecutive game due to back tightness.
“Zach started us out and really carried us for a while,” Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said. “He was really, really terrific.”
It is nothing Sixers coach Brett Brown, a former San Antonio assistant, hasn’t seen before from the longtime Memphis Grizzlies forward.
“He’s (been) an amazing low-post threat for a long period of time,” Brown said of Randolph, “and it sure felt all of that tonight.”
Buddy Hield added 24 points, 10 in the fourth quarter, helping the Kings (10-20) snap a two-game losing streak.
Frank Mason Jr. chipped in 16 points for Sacramento.
Robert Covington shot 5-for-19 but scored 17 points to lead Philadelphia (14-16). The 76ers lost their third straight and seventh in eight games. It is the first time they have been two games under .500 since they were 0-2.
They also fell to 1-6 in games without Embiid this season.
“It’s frustrating, but I think we can get it going down the stretch into Christmas,” said 76ers rookie Ben Simmons, who finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. “I believe in this team and the coaches. I don’t doubt anybody, and the ability for us to win games.”
Besides Embiid, the Sixers have been without guard Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in this year’s draft, most of the season. Guard/forward Justin Anderson has also been out since mid-November with shin splints, and J.J. Redick missed the second half Tuesday because of a sore right hamstring.
“We look forward to reclaiming some health,” Brown said. “We look forward to reclaiming some form and rebuilding our confidence.”
The Kings, down 65-49 with 9:07 left in the third quarter, outscored Philadelphia 35-13 over the next 13:26 to go up 84-78 with 7:41 remaining. That included a 13-0 flurry to begin the final period, in which Hield scored six points and Willie Cauley-Stein had four.
Philadelphia crept within 88-86 on a 3-pointer by Jerryd Bayless (15 points) with 5:12 to play, but baskets by Hield and Garrett Temple gave the Kings breathing room.
Sacramento, powered by Randolph’s 13 first-quarter points, moved to a 32-27 lead early in the second quarter.
The Kings were up 46-44 after a 3-pointer by Mason with 5:25 left in the half, but the Sixers scored 13 of the last 15 points before the break to take a 57-48 halftime lead.
The Kings missed eight of nine shots from the floor in that stretch, while Redick led the Sixers’ rush with a pair of 3-pointers, one of them after Simmons pitched ahead to Covington, who while making a leaping grab with his back to the basket fired to Redick on the right wing.
The Sixers extended their lead to 65-49 early in the third quarter before the Kings mounted a charge, again behind Randolph. He packed 10 points into the last 7:07 of the period, most of them on slow-motion drives to the hoop, slicing Philadelphia’s lead to 78-71 entering the fourth quarter.
NOTES: C Jahlil Okafor, traded by the Sixers to the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 7, told the New York Post that he was happy to be with a team featuring “an actual NBA coaching staff.” When asked about that before the game, Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said, “Jahlil knows what we did here. It’s a young person who gave a quote. ... I think everybody understands how we treat people here and the attention he received while he was here.” ... Philadelphia F Trevor Booker returned after missing the Monday loss in Chicago with a sprained left ankle. He had six points and six rebounds in 15:32 off the bench Tuesday. ... The Kings were without G George Hill (illness), and G De’Aaron Fox left the game at halftime after aggravating the quadriceps injury that caused him to miss the Sunday loss in Toronto. Fox, who scored two points in 11 minutes, did not return.