Player grades: Tyrese Maxey, short-handed Sixers rally to beat Kings
The Philadelphia 76ers were looking to do something very impressive on Saturday and finish off a five-game West Coast road trip by winning all five games. After a 4-0 start to the trip, they were looking to keep the momentum going, but they had to do it without Joel Embiid and James Harden against a tough Sacramento Kings team.
With their stars out due to injury management, the Sixers found themselves in a deep hole early. The Kings built a 21-point lead by scoring 21 points off 11 Sixers turnovers. However, Philadelphia worked their way back into the game thanks to Tyrese Maxey finally finding a rhythm in the second half and they rallied to win the game 129-127 and complete a perfect 5-0 road trip. As poorly as the Sixers played in the first half, they were absolutely terrific after halftime.
Maxey led the Sixers with 32 points and six assists, Tobias Harris had 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists before fouling out, Montrezl Harrell had 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting and seven rebounds, and De’Anthony Melton had 14 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Georges Niang had 17 and six boards while Shake Milton added 15, six rebounds, and seven assists off the bench.
Here are the player grades following an impressive win:
Tyrese Maxey: A-
Having to defend Kevin Huerter, Maxey had a tough night on the defensive end. Huerter just has the size advantage and he just rose up over the smaller Maxey despite the young guard’s best efforts. Sacramento continued to hunt him on pick-and-rolls and he just had a very tough time on defense. On the offensive end, he took on the responsibility to score the ball more and be aggressive on that end in order to try and give Philadelphia a spark. After a really tough first half, Maxey was terrific in the third quarter and he really led the furious comeback. He scored 11 straight Sixers points early in the third to get the Sixers back in the game.
De'Anthony Melton: B+
When the Kings were building their lead, Melton was able to provide some help on the offensive end, but he didn’t have the same bite on defense. Sacramento was getting into the paint consistently and the Sixers had some real issues trying to defend out on the perimeter. De’Aaron Fox can be a tough matchup for anybody in this league and he was certainly tough for Melton in this one. As with everybody else, though, he was much better at halftime. The Sixers were a completely different team in the second half.
Tobias Harris: B+
As was the same with Maxey, somebody had to score. Harris took it upon himself to do so as he was aggressive with his shot early. He reached double digits in points in the first quarter as he took on more of a responsibility on that end of the floor. The negative part about Harris’ game was the turnovers as Sacramento took advantage of those. He was better defensively in the second half to help the Sixers on their comeback trail after he struggled on that end in the first half.
PJ Tucker: F
Tucker had a really tough night. He missed an open triple in the corner and he picked up three fouls in the first half. He then picked up a technical foul for arguing the call after the third foul which allowed the Kings to extend their lead. He had a few nice defensive moments in the third quarter, but it’s hard to give him a passing grade for this one.
Montrezl Harrell: A
The veteran had a really tough time with Domantas Sabonis defensively. Without Embiid in the paint, Sabonis was having a ton of success with his offensive game as Harrell is not the defender Embiid is out on the floor. What Harrell did bring was energy and he was efficient on the offensive end as well. He just has a knack for being able to carve out space around the basket despite being undersized. He was terrific on the offensive end to help Maxey get the Sixers back into this one.
Georges Niang: A-
The initial run for Niang was a tough one. He did get a runner to fall on the offensive end, but he also had a couple of turnovers that led to the Kings knocking down a couple of 3s and building on their lead. He also had his own struggles on the defensive end. He does get points for being able to bounce back from the tough start and hustling. He was rebounding well and knocked down some triples on a good offensive night.
Shake Milton: A
Milton was able to get to the line and distribute the ball well, but he also had his struggles on the defensive end and he got into foul trouble. He was aggressive in getting to the rim though which Philadelphia will take every night. He also was great rebounding the ball as he had a really nice night stuffing the stat sheet. He was terrific in the second half knocking down some tough shots and providing some much-needed offense. As with everybody else, his play after halftime was much better than what it was before the half.
Paul Reed: A
He gave a lot of energy, but Reed was victimized by Sabonis as well. The Kings were not deterred by any of Philadelphia’s big men trying to protect the paint. Reed does get credit for being active on the offensive glass and finishing at the basket on the offensive end of the floor. Overall, he was a big help and the Sixers really needed that type of performance.
Danuel House Jr.: A
Looking for a spark, coach Doc Rivers turned to House Jr. late in the first half and he actually got a prayer answered from halfcourt to end the half. He was rewarded with second half minutes and he knocked down another 3-pointer. House Jr. has been out of the rotation as of late, but he might have earned some more minutes after this performance.
Matisse Thybulle: C
With the defensive struggles, the Sixers went zone and they inserted Thybulle into the game. He was able to deter some of Sacramento’s penetration, but it wasn’t enough to really turn the tide. He also got caught in the air by Malik Monk and fouled him on a jumper. He also got extremely lucky late that Harrison Barnes missed the first of three free throws with the Kings down by three. Thybulle fouled him while shooting a 3-pointer and Barnes couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.