Sixers conquer Kings as Tobias Harris dominates

Sixers tobias harris
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris reacts after making a basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia 76ers welcomed the Sacramento Kings into the Wells Fargo Center for a Friday night matchup. Once again, the Sixers would be without star Joel Embiid and process legend Robert Covington, but that would make little difference as they conquered the Kings from the early game.

It was a bit of a rough matchup for about the first five or so minutes but the pace quickly picked up thanks to the efforts of Tobias Harris. This was quite possibly the best game that Harris has enjoyed in his sixish years with the Sixers.

Tobi time

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (12) gestures after making a 3-point shot during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets Saturday, April 22, 2023, in New York. The 76ers won 96-88. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Tobias Harris was on another level tonight against the Kings. As fans of Sacramento may know, the team has a tendency to struggle against wings with size. Harris, likely having been tipped off to this fact, made the most of his opportunity, leading the Sixers’s offense in a dominant effort over the Kings.

Physicality on both ends was the name of the early game for Harris, finishing with an aggressive sense of panache rarely seen by the 13-year veteran. Not normally known as the strongest of finishers, Harris made sure on several attempts to flush the ball with authority, perhaps as some form of penance for his mishap Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Harris’s strong play was not only true of his offense, but defensively, he was a thorn in Sacramento’s side all night, forcing two early turnovers against Sabonis.

Ultimately Harris came up just short of 40 points, finishing with 37, but he left the games with cheers and chants pouring down from the home crowd in his name.

What a night for Tobias Harris.

A stalemate between Wildcats

Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, front right, is defended by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort, front left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

Tonight’s game between the Sixers and Kings marked the first matchup of the season between Tyrese Maxey and star guard for Sacramento, De’Aaron Fox. The two lightning-quick guards out of Kentucky figured to be the matchup of the night, but as the game progressed, the only advantage one took over the other was in the result of the contest.

De’Aaron Fox, like Maxey, has made several impressive leaps over his career. This season especially has been impressive as he’s overcome the shooting struggles that have plagued his career.

Regrettably, the two spent less than a minute guarding the other, but that was by obvious design and worked to plan for both sides.

Maxey was held to just 6/17 shooting from the field for 21 points, while Fox finished 5/21 with the same point total. A night to forget for the former Kentucky guards, but they will both have the chance to assert dominance over the other on March 25th when the Sixers and Kings next meet.

Mo Bamba doing tall guy stuff

Philadelphia 76ers center Mo Bamba (7) drives to the basket as Atlanta Hawks guards Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) and Trent Forrest (2) defend during the first of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Sixers are, on paper, deeper than they ever have been at the backup center spot. And yet, for much of the season, the reserve pairing of Paul Reed and Mo Bamba has often underperformed. So much so that the team is reportedly considering backup big man options at the deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

While there is still reason to believe the Sixers could pursue a backup big on the trade market, Mo Bamba has given them less of a reason to commit to the idea, at least based on his play Friday night. Bamba, a player who measures upwards of seven feet, has long been looked the part of the ideal modern NBA big.

With ideal length, height, and an ability to stretch the floor, Bamba has always had the tools to be an effective NBA player, but all too often, he struggled, either with consistency from range or seemingly forgetting he’s typically the tallest player on the court.

Against Sacramento, Bamba’s self-awareness of his size appeared at a near-all-time high level, blocking three early shots and finishing with four on the night. If Bamba is going to revitalize his NBA career, he must continue to prove himself as a rim-protector, whether he remains in Philadelphia or elsewhere.

Friday night was a step in the right direction.

Up next for the Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) watches from the bench as the 76ers fall behind the Boston Celtics during the second half of Game 7 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Sixers will remain at home as they prepare to welcome in the Houston Rockets in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matchup. Will this mark the long-awaited return of Joel Embiid? Only time will tell.

Tip-off is at 1:00 PM.