Two teams with an uncanny recent history of close games look to shake off narrow defeats when the Sacramento Kings visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
Each team had a shot at a momentum-building win Monday night, only to fall short at tough sites in the end.
After splitting decisions on the first two stops of their four-city trip, the Kings got a career-best 41 points from Buddy Hield and had the last shot but came up short in a 103-102 loss at Boston.
Bogdan Bogdanovic misfired on the final jumper, which not only would have given the Kings a second straight win but also an eighth victory in their last 11 games.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win,” Kings coach Luke Walton proudly boasted to reporters afterward. “In an NBA season — it’s a long, brutal season — most nights that’s all you’re really asking for is a chance at the end. And we had a chance, so I’m proud of the effort our guys put out.”
The Kings were playing without De’Aaron Fox (sprained ankle), Marvin Bagley III (broken thumb) and Trevor Ariza (strained groin).
They’ll be without all three again in their trip finale at Philadelphia, where they’ll see a team whose biggest wound is Joel Embiid’s pride.
The star center went scoreless for the first time in his career Monday in a 101-96 loss at Toronto in a game that carried a little extra significance for the 76ers, who saw their season come to an end north of the border last May.
“I can’t have this type of production,” Embiid assured the media after the debacle, during which he missed all four of his 3-point attempts, all seven of his two-point tries and all three of his free throws. “I would have never thought I would be here talking about zero points in an NBA game. But it is what it is.
“Some nights you make shots, some nights you don’t.”
Embiid wasn’t the only 76er who came up dry down the stretch against the Raptors. Philadelphia went scoreless in its last eight possessions in the winnable game.
Both teams figure to need improved clutch play in Wednesday’s meeting as each of the last 10 head-to-heads between the Kings and 76ers have been won by nine or fewer points. That includes four games decided by one possession.
Embiid had 21 points and 17 rebounds when the Kings visited last March, a game the 76ers won 123-114 by holding the visitors scoreless over the game’s final 2:35.
Embiid had similar success (29 points, 17 rebounds) six weeks earlier at Sacramento. But it was the 76ers who floundered down the stretch that night, hitting just one field goal after leading with 2:34 to go, allowing the Kings to escape with a 115-108 win.
The 76ers are 7-0 at home, winning by an average of 12.6 points per game.
The Kings, meanwhile, have gone 3-3 on two separate trips to the East already this season.
–Field Level Media