76ers-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 24, 2013
Neither the Philadelphia 76ers nor the Sacramento Kings will factor into the playoffs this season, as Philadelphia will not qualify for only the second time since 2008 while Sacramento will miss out for the seventh straight season. But lately, things have looked better for the Kings, while the Sixers keep inching dangerously closer to an all-time franchise mark for road futility. Sacramento will try for its fifth victory in six games at home on Sunday night against Philadelphia. The Sixers (26-42) have lost two in a row and are the NBA's lowest scoring team at 92.4 points per game, but their struggles have been magnified away from home, where they've lost 15 straight and are 6-25 on the season, averaging 90.2 points per game. They haven't won on the road since a 103-99 victory against the Lakers on New Year's Day. It's Philadelphia's longest road losing streak since the club dropped 20 in a row from Dec. 28, 1987-March 4, 1988. Perhaps a game against the Kings can help, as the Sixers have won eight of nine meetings, including four in a row in Sacramento. Jrue Holiday scored just two in a loss against the Clippers on Wednesday, then bounced back with 18 points and a season-high tying 15 assists at Denver on Thursday, but the Sixers still ended up with a 101-100 loss. All despite having a five-point lead with less than 10 seconds left - seemingly a sure-fire opportunity to put the road losing streak to rest. "Effort was there, energy was there, it was closing out the game," said Evan Turner, a 74.1 percent free-throw shooter on the season who missed two free throws in the final 10 seconds. "That's not what lost the game. Situations occurred. That's some crazy stuff that just happened. The season's been rough. That's one you just shake your head. It seems like a fluke to me." Meanwhile, the Kings (25-45) are 6-5 over their last 11 - not overly impressive but notable for a team more than 10 games out of contention for a playoff spot. Sacramento has developed a much better offensive rhythm since the All-Star break. The club leads the NBA in scoring in 16 games since, averaging 109.1 points while shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range, compared to 96.8 points per game on 35.0 percent shooting in the first 54 games of the season. Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton have helped key the offensive surge with each being more productive. Thomas is averaging 17.1 on 46.8 percent shooting - 42.1 from beyond the arc - since the break after putting up 12.1 per contest while shooting 31.5 percent from 3-point range in his first 51. Meanwhile, Thornton in 16 games since the break is averaging 16.7 points and knocking down 44.8 percent of his shots from long distance. He scored 11.5 a contest and hit just 34.7 percent from deep in 44 games before the break. Thomas had 24 in the previous meeting on Feb. 1 in Philadelphia to go along with Tyreke Evans' 29 but Thaddeus Young led three Philadelphia 20-plus point scorers with 23 and 15 rebounds in an 89-80 Sixers victory.
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