The Philadelphia 76ers (30-19) defeat the Sacramento Kings (18-33) 103-101 in a close contest that came down to the wire. Here’s three of my biggest takeaways in Philadelphia’s fourth straight win

A Chaotic First Half:

The Philadelphia 76ers performance in the first half was horrible to say the least. Most importantly, Philadelphia turned the ball over too many times to count. To boot, the Sixers turned the ball over 10 times before Sacramento committed their first turnover. These turnovers were because of poor decision making and bad passes in response to Sacramento’s unique defense. In total, the Kings scored 22 points off of Philadelphia’s costly turnovers.

Alvin Gentry’s Sacramento Kings played great defense in the first half. Uniquely, Sacramento played a variation of a zone defense and constantly blitzed the perimeter, which troubled Philadelphia’s Seth Curry. However, what was most effective was double-teaming superstar Joel Embiid. By doing so, the Kings forced Embiid to commit a few turnovers and take some bad shots. What’s more, Philadelphia’s offense provided no help to the MVP candidate. The 76ers were stagnant, therefore Embiid had to take it upon himself to carry the offense. Unfortunately, the big fella shot 1-5 from the field in the first half. But, he did get to the line 12 times and nailed 10-12 of his free throws. 

Joel Embiid Leads Sixers Comeback:

The Philadelphia 76ers played significantly better in the second half led by Joel Embiid. After an ugly first half, Embiid finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists. and shot 10-18 from the field. The MVP candidate was able to aggressively get down low and dominate in the restricted area. Sacramento didn’t have a solution to Embiid’s dominance. In the third quarter alone, the big fella scored 17 points on 6-9 shooting from the field. In a nutshell, Embiid’s superstar efforts sparked Philadelphia’s second half comeback. 

Also, the 76ers played much better defense in the second half. Philadelphia’s defensive rotations were quicker compared to the first half, where Sacramento had open looks from three. Additionally, the Sixers defended Sacramento’s pick-and-roll much better, especially at the rim. Surprisingly, Philadelphia’s best defensive stint occurred when Joel Embiid was on the sideline. Reserve Andre Drummond protected the rim very well in the 4th quarter. He played great help defense and had a menacing presence down low. The Kings shot only 35% from the field in the second half. 

What’s more, Tyrese Maxey provided a spark in the fourth quarter that gave Philadelphia a significant lead. Moreover, the second-year guard played very well in transition and got a few buckets. In the second half, Maxey tallied 9 points. In total, Tyrese Maxey contributed 13 points and 7 assists.

Tyrese Haliburton’s Career Night:

Tyrese Haliburton was nothing short of spectacular tonight. He poured in a career-high 38 points, 7 assists, 3 steals, and shot 5-9 from beyond the arc. Philadelphia couldn’t stop Haliburton’s dribble penetration coming off screens. Moreover, the second-year guard was very good in the pick-and-pop as well. Most importantly, Haliburton’s perimeter shooting kept Sacramento in the game in crunch time. In the few minutes of action, he drained three clutch triples. One of them cut Philadelphia’s lead down to two points with seconds to spare. Overall, Tyrese Haliburton had an excellent offensive performance.

The Philadelphia 76ers will rematch Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday (January 31st) at 7:00 pm ET.