Ever since the acquisition of Ish Smith for the Sixers, this has been a totally different team. Ish Smith has been a spark for this team and every player is playing at a high level. Game 5 of the Sixers Western Conference road trip left them in Sacramento, and the Sixers went into the new year with a victory and a new identity.
DeMarcus Cousins has presented challenges for the Sixers in the past. Cousins is a load down low, and has even expanded his range to the three point line this season. After getting dominated by Cousins last appearance, Noel was not about to let that happen again. Cousins was 4-10 from the field tonight, attempting a career high 20 free throws on the night in the process. Noel held him in check throughout the game, swiping the basketball any chance he got from the big man, which left DeMarcus Cousins frustrated. Cousins fouled out in the fourth quarter, and the Sixers never looked back.
Ish Smith and Nerlens Noel continued to play off each other fantastically tonight. Connecting on multiple alley oops, Ish Smith dished out 9 assists tonight while only committing one turnover. Ish also continues to impress scoring the basketball, who scored 18 on the night. Nerlens Noel playing in his more natural 5 position looked extremely comfortable out on the floor and continued to put up great numbers since Ish Smith was acquired by Philadelphia. Noel poured in 20 points on the night and ripped down 9 rebounds, committing 4 steals on the defensive end.
Arguably the best game of his young NBA career, Jerami Grant was a menace all over the court and was the Sixers MVP tonight. Grant was responsible for five blocked shots and was an animal on the rebounds, pulling down a career high 11 rebounds on the night. Grant also showed some range by connecting on 2 of his 3 three point attempts, finishing up with 16 points on the night.
Jahlil Okafor returned from injury and played sparing minutes, but still managed a double-double with 10 points and rebounds. The Kings looked real sloppy all game, being responsible for 22 turnovers for the game. Marco Bellinelli was feasting on the mid-range jump shot for the first half but that was not enough to run the Sixers down to the ground, with the Sixers winning this contest 110-105.
The Philadelphia 76ers (3-31), will open up the new year in Los Angeles as they will play guests to the Los Angeles Lakers from the Staples Center.