76ers Blog: Pre-Game Notes ~ 3/12/2014 vs. Sacramento Kings
3/12/2014 7:03:00 PM
The 76ers' (15-48; 5th-Atlantic Division, 14th-Eastern Conference) next opportunity to halt a pair of lengthy losing streaks comes against the Sacramento Kings (22-42; 5th-Pacific Division, T14th-Western Conference). Both teams are having difficult seasons, as their records suggest. The Sixers have dropped 17 games in a row overall, and a franchise-record 13 straight home games. Sacramento, meanwhile, is in the midst of a season-long seven-game road trip, and has fallen in three consecutive games.
Tonight, the Sixers not only begin a three-game homestand, but enter a stretch in which they play five of their next six games at the Wells Fargo Center. When this portion of the schedule ends with a March 21st match-up against the New York Knicks, the Sixers will have just four home dates remaining. Nine of their final 14 outings will be held on the road.
All things being relative, the Kings could be a vulnerable opponent. They've lost six of their last eight games, with the two exceptions coming in meetings against the struggling New Orleans Pelicans and Milwaukee Bucks. The Sixers defeated Sacramento, 113-104, back on January 2nd, a win that marked the Sixers' third-largest margin of victory this year.
The 76ers managed to hang with the suddenly resurgent New York Knicks for about two and a half quarters on Monday night at Madison Square Garden, using a 12-4 push to jump in front, 79-78, with about 4:00 left in the third period. From there, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks took over, and put the game away en route to a 123-110 win.
One of the factors that allowed the Sixers to stay close to New York early on in Monday's game was the production that the team received from center Henry Sims. The 6'10", 250-pound big man from Georgetown has added a physical low-post presence to the Sixers' roster since he was sent here from the Cleveland Cavaliers via the Spencer Hawes deal.
Prior to joining the Sixers, Sims hadn't scored more than seven points in an NBA game, and was just beginning to show signs of improving his rebounding. He's appeared in seven games with the Sixers, earning starts in his last 6 outings. He's put up double-figures four times, including three of the last four games, and has finished with at least four rebounds on six occasions.
"I do think that we're getting better with this new group that we inherited," Brett Brown said after the Sixers' final stop of the season in Manhattan. "I was proud for a large majority of the game of what they did."
Another positive development at Madison Square Garden was that Michael Carter-Williams rebounded from the lowest-scoring performance of his pro career with a triple-double. On top of 23 points and 10 assists, Carter-Williams generated a career-best 13 rebounds. His first triple-double came against the Orlando Magic on December 3rd.
"People are going to see the numbers, and the numbers are the numbers, but I think he continues to grow leadership-wise," said Brown. "I see an emerging leader. I see a point guard that is starting to figure stuff out. These stats may say he played well, I see something a little bit deeper."
Hired as Sacramento's general manager in July, Pete D'Alessandro has been one of the most active personnel men this season, his first running an NBA organization. He's steadily made several transactions designed to acquire youthful talent and flexible contracts, all in an attempt to position his organization for an effective rebuilding project. To recap the most noteworthy deals…
Late in November, D'Alessandro acquired Derrick Williams - the second overall selection of the 2011 NBA Draft - from the Minnesota Timberwolves. While Williams has yet to live up to the expectations that followed him out of the University of Arizona, he's managed to take on a more prominent role with the Kings. Having averaged only 14.7 minutes in 11 games with Minnesota, Williams now logs about 25.5 minutes per game with the Kings; he's nearly doubled his scoring average, which is now up to 9.5 points in games played for Sacramento.
About two weeks after picking up Williams, D'Alessandro helped arrange a seven-player swap with the Toronto Raptors. The centerpiece of the trade was Rudy Gay, a former lottery pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Gay has always put up decent offensive numbers, but recently - in his words - has been playing the most "efficient" basketball of his career. Gay is on pace to finish the season with a personal best 20.2 points per game average.
Then, leading up to the NBA trade deadline in February, the Kings scooped up veterans Reggie Evans and Jason Terry from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Marcus Thornton, an expendable fifth-year shooting guard. While Sacramento has so far been able to utilize Evans, the team decided to shutdown Terry for the remainder of the season. Terry has reportedly been bothered by knee issues, and is going through a rehabilitation program in Dallas. Both Evans and Terry are under contract through 2015; however, it's been speculated that either one or both of them could be bought out at some point.