The Sixers (39-32) visited the Sacramento Kings (41-29) on Monday. Philadelphia wanted to earn a split on its four-game west coast trip. Sacramento wanted to build on Saturday's victory over the Orlando Magic. Despite Tyrese Maxey's best efforts, the Sixers were too slow and unfocused on defense to keep pace with the Kings in a 108-96 defeat.

Before we get to the game, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid, who is recovering from a procedure to address a meniscus injury in his left knee.

Kelly Oubre Jr. missed the game with a sore left shoulder.

De'Anthony Melton has bone stress in his lumbar spine and remained out. As did Robert Covington, who has a bone bruise in his left knee.

Terq Smith is on a two-way G League assignment with the Delaware Blue Coats and was not available.

Nick Nurse started Kyle Lowry, Tyrese Maxey, Nico Batum, Tobias Harris, and Mo Bamba.

The Kings were without the services of Kevin Huerter, who has a dislocated left shoulder.

Trey Lyles was out with a sprained left knee. Sash Vezenkov has a sprained right ankle and was not available.

Mason Jones and Jordan Ford are on two-way assignments with Sacramento's G League affiliate and were out.

Mike Brown started De'Aaron Fox, Keon Ellis, Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray, and Domantas Sabonis.


- There was exactly one reason the Sixers weren't already on the flight home at halftime. That reason wears no. 0. The only way Sacramento was able to keep him off the scoreboard for extended minutes was Nurse subbing Maxey out of the game for some earned rest after a heater that lasted the entire first quarter.

It's easy to get lost in him lacing threes from the mid-court logo or blowing by entire lineups for complex finishes at the rim. Maxey's best development lately is being cognizant of when he can go on autopilot to allow his teammates to eat and when he has to put his foot down and take over.

It took a few minutes of game time for everyone to recognize that the other Sixers on the floor did not have it. Harris' jumper was all over the place; no one was moving all that well; the offense was a slog. Sometimes, a team-oriented approach is the worst thing for the team. You go the deferential route at the wrong time, and the game is over before you blink. Maxey saw where the game was headed if he didn't put the Sixers on his back, and he quickly got to work.

Aside from a couple deep threes and a relatively difficult jumper off the dribble after shedding a defender in isolation, none of Maxey's work was a product of shooting luck. Just as he did in the Lakers loss and the Clippers win, he relied on his athletic gifts, first and foremost. Sacramento is a below-average defense, and he shredded them with rather easy drives to get himself going in the first quarter. Once the heater was on full blast, he put it to the test, lacing three triples in five possessions to bring the Sixers within one point with less than two minutes to go in the opening quarter.

The Kings looked poised to put this game on ice in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Maxey staved off the trouble until being spelled to start the second quarter. To put into perspective how much Maxey carried the team, Paul Reed threw down a reverse dunk to tie the game at 18 with 3:25 left in the first quarter. That was the team's first bucket by someone not named Tyrese Maxey. So good for one guy, it's impressive. So bad for everyone else, it's impressive.


- Listen, I get the human elements kick in - only one guy on the team can get anything going on offense; the officiating sucked - but you cannot stay competitive without Embiid if you let those frustrations spiral into not getting back or forfeiting wide-open shots on the first or second pass.

After being dynamite in LA on Sunday, Harris had nothing to offer on offense on Monday. He then turned into a space cadet as a helper, turning his back and staring at the ball to allow Davion Mitchell an opportunity to cut backdoor for an easy layup in the second quarter. Harris turned the ball over on a travel when the Sixers had advantage against an unsettled Sacramento defense in the second quarter. He botched an alley-oop in the third quarter.

Cam Payne, who has far lower expectations than Harris does, followed up his Sunday stardom with an absolute stinker in this game. You don't expect him to have much of a chance when mismatched with a big at the rim. But, he didn't have to give away a three-point play with a foul that had no chance of stopping the bucket.

All of this is to say, the frustrations on both ends took Philadelphia's heads out of the game on defense. They had nothing for the Kings' speed in transition, and they allowed themselves to get blitzed because each empty possession was compounded by high-quality shots for the home team.

Miscues on offense happen; you have to neutralize them by staying locked in on defense. You're fighting a losing battle on offense without Embiid, but if the seesaw leans toward you not being able to hold down the fort on defense, you have to take care of the basketball and not kill your own possessions with sloppiness.

- When you defend as badly as the Sixers did, you do not get the equity of complaining about officiating. And, let me tell you, it was insufferably bad. You can't blow the whistle on every morsel of contact dealt to Sabonis and then not call the arm contact when the other team dribbles or overturn a foul at the rim because the offensive player raised his knee like all other humans do when they jump off one leg.

Oh, this is my favorite part - the Sixers were called for technicals because they dared react to the bad calls. Basketball For Dummies is available for purchase on the internet. I suggest that group of geniuses order it and study up.

- This might've been as bad as Buddy Hield has looked in a Sixers uniform. He had no feel for when to pull back his shot and let possessions develop. And the open ones that Hield did get were off the mark.

The Sixers (39-33) will host the Los Angeles Clippers (44-26) on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the action on ESPN.

Check Out Greater Atlantic City, NJ Area Athletes Who Played Games In NFL

Many people are not aware of the number of athletes from the Greater Atlantic City Region who have played in the National Football League. Football players who played at high schools in Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, and Ocean Counties have a strong representation in the NFL over the last few decades.

One of the most difficult accomplishments in sports is to make a Professional Sports Roster and earn the opportunity to play in a game at the highest level of the sport. Check out some of the great South Jersey Athletes who have played in games in the NFL:

Gallery Credit: Joshua Hennig/Townsquare Media

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