After blowing a late lead and losing to one of the league’s elite teams, the Philadelphia 76ers should have a good chance to bounce back against one of the worst.
The 76ers look to win their seventh straight over the Sacramento Kings when the teams meet Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center.
In a potential Eastern Conference playoff preview, sixth-place Philadelphia (37-35) looked like it was ready to make a statement Friday against Miami. The 76ers led by as many as 16 points in the first half and were ahead 90-83 with less than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Heat went on a 21-5 run to put away the game and hand Philadelphia a 111-99 loss.
Reserve Louis Williams(notes), who averages 14.0 points, scored 24 for the second time in three games, but the Sixers had no answers for Miami’s Big 3, especially Dwyane Wade(notes), who outscored Philadelphia 18-17 in the fourth quarter.
“They just had another gear,” coach Doug Collins said. “Those three guys got 91 points. That’s tough to beat.”
While the Sixers, who have lost back-to-back games only once since Jan. 22, had some trouble containing Miami’s three All-Stars, they had no problems against the Kings last Friday. Philadelphia led by 26 points after three quarters, and Collins was able to rest all of his starters for the entire final period in a 102-80 victory at Sacramento.
It marked another lopsided victory in this series for Philadelphia, which has outscored the Kings by an average of 17.0 points in winning the last six meetings since a 109-99 loss Dec. 14, 2007.
Plus, the 76ers have won 13 of 17 at home, and none of those losses came to teams with losing records. Sacramento (19-52) has the second-worst record in the West.
Last week’s loss to the Sixers was the eighth in nine games for Kings, but they’ve been playing much better since.
Sacramento hit the road after facing Philadelphia, winning three of the first four contests on its five-game trip. The Kings, who had only one victory in their previous nine road games, haven’t won four times on a trip of five games or longer since March 2006.
An improved defense has helped spark this turnaround for the Kings, who held Indiana to 35.2 percent shooting in a 110-93 win Friday. They’ve limited opponents to an average of 92.7 points in these last three victories - 11.5 fewer than their season average.
Sacramento is 7-2 on the season when allowing 93 points or fewer.
“We’re really playing some good defense,” coach Paul Westphal said. “We’ve been knocking on the door all year playing close games, not quite being able to break through, and now we’re starting to break through. We’ve got a good young team and we’re learning some lessons, and we’re learning to win on the road.”
The Kings also have guard Tyreke Evans(notes) back after he missed 19 games with left foot plantar fasciitis. Last season’s Rookie of the Year returned Friday and finished with six points and eight assists in 17 minutes.