Kings 115, Sixers 108: Sixers Fall Back to Earth in Sacramento

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After beating the two-time defending champion Warriors Thursday night, the Sixers couldn't steal another West Coast win.

They fell Saturday to the Kings, 115-108, despite coming back from a 13-point deficit in the second half to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Joel Embiid had 29 points and 17 rebounds for the Sixers (34-19), who head back home after a 2-2 road trip.

Buddy Hield scored 34 for the Kings, including a couple big three-pointers down the stretch. 

• Jimmy Butler came up huge in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 of his 29 points in the period. He passed up a few good looks earlier in the game, but none of that hestiation was evident when the game was on the line. Though the Sixers didn't win, it's clear at this point the "closer" label is more than warranted for Butler. You'd just like to see more of his offensive aggression earlier in the game. 

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• Ben Simmons picked up where he left off on Thursday night, when he played a stellar two-way game in Golden State, one Brett Brown considered the best of his career. On the Sixers' first possession, he came off a ball screen from Mike Muscala, drove hard to the rim, and dunked on Nemanja Bjelica.

Simmons knocked down his first four shots, meaning he made 13 of his first 17 field goals after being named an All-Star. He had 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists on the night.  

You may recall Bjelica reportedly agreed to a deal with the Sixers in July 2018, then spurned the team and eventually signed with the Kings. 

• Bjelica matched up against the player the Sixers signed later in July, Muscala. With Wilson Chandler out two to three weeks with a right quad strain and JJ Redick resting, Muscala and Landry Shamet came into the starting lineup. 

The Sixers missed Redick's outside shooting as neither Muscala nor Shamet contributed much offense - the two combined to shoot 4 for 14.

As a team, the Sixers were a dismal 7 of 33 from three-point range.

• Like clockwork, you look at the box score early in the third quarter and realize Joel Embiid already has a double-double, and often 20-plus points. Embiid used his strength and crashed the offensive boards against Sacramento's Willie Cauley-Stein, although Cauley-Stein got the better of Embiid a couple times on the other end. The Kentucky product slammed one in over Embiid in the third and shot 8 for 9, with 19 points. 

• The Sixers fell behind 28-15 early, in large part because of 15 first-quarter points from Hield. It was perplexing how easy it was for Hield, one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, to get open looks. There were numerous apparent miscommunications by the Sixers and delayed defensive rotations, with Butler at fault on several occasions.

• Chandler's injury also resulted in playing time for two-way player Shake Milton, his 13th NBA game. Milton didn't do anything spectacular on Saturday, but he continues to look like he belongs. He's not out of his league defensively, he's poised with the ball and he makes good decisions.

Milton nailed two mid-range jumpers during the Sixers' 12-2 fourth-quarter run to tie the game at 91 apiece. 

It was surprising to see Furkan Korkmaz preferred over Milton in the third quarter. That experiment ended after three minutes, with Korkmaz missing an impossibly easy fast break layup.

• Corey Brewer played just five first-half minutes in the final game of his second 10-day contract, posting four points and two rebounds and turning it over twice. The Sixers now must decide whether to release Brewer or sign him for the rest of the season. 

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