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3 observations after tremendous Harris scores 37, Sixers snap three-game skid

3 observations after tremendous Harris scores 37, Sixers snap three-game skid originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Friday night at Wells Fargo Center belonged to Tobias Harris.

The veteran forward dropped 37 points in an excellent performance, the most he's ever scored in a regular-season game as a Sixer. (Harris also had 37 vs. the Wizards in the opening game of the 2021 playoffs).

Tyrese Maxey added 21 points, helping the Sixers snap a season-high three-game losing streak and win their 10th consecutive game vs. the Kings. The 112-93 victory moved the Sixers to 24-13.

Sacramento is now 23-14. The Kings were led by De’Aaron Fox (21 points) and Domantas Sabonis (14 points, 12 rebounds).

The Sixers were down Joel Embiid (left knee inflammation), Kelly Oubre Jr. (right big toe soreness) and Robert Covington (left knee inflammation). They improved to 3-7 in Embiid-less games.

Sixers head coach Nick Nurse said pregame that he hoped Embiid would be back at practice soon. Nurse expected Embiid to play Monday afternoon vs. the Rockets.

Oubre, who was a late scratch, said after the Sixers’ overtime loss Wednesday to the Hawks that he felt like he had “turf toe or something.” He didn’t know the specific issue, but Oubre said he would be all right and wasn’t worried.

Here are observations on the Sixers' win Friday over the Kings:

Harris in the middle of strong two-way start 

A return home didn’t immediately warm up the Sixers’ shooting. They dropped to 2 for 12 from the field after Paul Reed failed to convert a corner three and Maxey missed a layup.

Harris was easily the Sixers’ best player in the early going. He guarded Sacramento’s three-time All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis and played savvy, sturdy post defense, poking free a couple of steals.

With 7:28 left in the first quarter, Harris also scored an and-one layup to draw Sabonis’ second foul. Another Harris and-one — this one a strong drive past Chris Duarte followed by an emphatic slam — put the Sixers up 12-8.

The Kings started cold as well, misfiring on 10 of their first 11 three-pointers. While the Sixers got a bit of luck with some open Sacramento misses, they switched, scrambled and competed well.

Harris was impressive on both ends, tallying 14 first-quarter points on 4-for-6 shooting and helping the Sixers seize a 29-21 lead. With the Kings pressuring Maxey full court and blitzing on his pick-and-rolls, Harris’ no-nonsense aggression and efficient scoring were necessary.

Harris was obviously not a one-quarter wonder Friday night. Though he was ruthless in posting up smaller players and muscling his way into the paint, he had few record-scratching plays to diminish the Sixers’ team pace.

Both big men impactful

Mo Bamba remained the Sixers’ backup five and earned an extended first stint with a strong showing.

The matchup against 7-foot-2 Alex Len was a good one for Bamba. He protected the rim nicely, swatting three shots in the first half. Bamba nailed a pick-and-pop three early in the second quarter, too.

Reed rejected a Malik Monk floater as soon as he subbed back in, leading to a transition Harris triple. And on the Sixers’ next trip, Reed’s zealous work on the offensive glass led to Sabonis’ third foul.

Both Reed and Bamba made basket-erasing, highlight plays defensively without hitting major foul trouble. Excessive fouling has often been problematic for the Sixers across the board without Embiid, but they forced 10 turnovers in Friday’s first half while committing only five fouls as a team.

All about No. 12

Maxey delighted the Sixers’ bench late in the second quarter with a tricky, high-hang time finish. He then drilled his third three, stretching the Sixers’ advantage to 20 points.

As a duo, Maxey and Harris scored 40 first-half points. The Kings posted just 46, Sabonis only two.

The Sixers had a slow start to the second half, but De’Anthony Melton scored his first points of the night and got the team’s lead over 20 again with back-to-back corner threes. Nicolas Batum then drained a jumper from nearly the identical spot after a textbook Sixers sequence — Maxey blitzed, Reed available on the short roll, solid pass out to the open man. Batum had a stellar game, recording 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting, six rebounds and three assists.

The Sixers were sloppy in the middle section of the third quarter, allowing the Kings to hang around. Two Fox foul shots cut Sacramento’s deficit to a dozen points with under a minute to play in the third. Danuel House Jr. then delivered a timely step-back three and effectively contested a Fox fadeaway try.

Harris steered the Sixers back into a more comfortable situation with a late-clock three early in the fourth quarter. At that point, the main question left was simply how much Harris would score.

Harris, who heard “Tobi, Tobi!” chants from the crowd in the fourth, missed a few shots that would’ve gotten him to 39 (his current career high) or 40 points. Still a tremendous night for No. 12.