SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Now that the Philadelphia 76ers have proven that a season-opening three-game winning streak was not a fluke, the next challenge is making a nickname stick for guard Michael Carter-Williams and forward Evan Turner.
Perhaps the Slash Brothers?
The way the 76ers played in a 113-104 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday at Sleep Train Arena, and the way they played in the two games preceding it has returned optimism that faded after a wretched 21-game stretch in which the 76ers won only five.
But by holding off a SACRAMENTO rally in the fourth quarter and winning for the third straight time, Philadelphia matched its longest winning streak of the season. This time, all three victories have been on the road.
"Defense," Hawes, the ex-King said when explaining what's changed. "We're making a more concerted effort on the defensive end, and we're sharing the ball on the offensive end. When you play hard on defense, it feeds into your offense. It's fun when you play that way."
Forward Thaddeus Young finished with 28 points, most of them off feeds from Turner, listed as a forward but often playing with the ball in his hands, and Carter-Williams, the rookie point guard who penetrated the key mostly at will. Young also finished with a career-high six steals, one of them that led to to a Tony Wroten free throw that stopped the bleeding after Philadelphia's 83-65 lead had been cut to 98-93 with just over eight minutes left in the fourth.
Carter–Williams followed that with a 5-foot leaner on the 76ers' next possession, and Young added a rebound jam to put Philadelphia back up 103-93 with 5:56 to go.
The Kings didn't get closer than seven points the rest of the way.
"I (thought) that we just had no energy tonight," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "We didn't defend for three quarters."
Turner added 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and Wroten scored 21 in 31 minutes off the bench for the 76ers, who won at Denver on Wednesday and were 1-12 on the road before their current streak. Carter-Williams finished with seven points, five assists and four rebounds, all below his season averages, but five Philadelphia players scored in double-digits, and its bench outscored SACRAMENTO's 41-28.
"A team win," 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "That's the thing that sticks out the most. As a team, everybody had something to say in this one."
Center DeMarcus Cousins scored a game-high 33 points and added 14 rebounds for the Kings, his sixth straight double-double and 19th this season. But he had five of SACRAMENTO's 23 turnovers and sat out a critical stretch in the fourth quarter after picking up his fifth foul.
The Kings staged a small rally at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Kings guard Jimmer Fredette scored 12 straight points (he finished with a season-high 15) as SACRAMENTO cut Philadelphia's margin to 96-91.
Then Carter-Williams and Turner did their thing for Philadelphia, which outscored SACRAMENTO 58-46 inside the paint and negated the Kings' usual run to 100 points. SACRAMENTO topped the century mark for the eighth straight game in for the 14th in the past 15.
"We just couldn't stop them one-on-one," Fredette said. "They do a lot of one-on-one, and they obviously got out in transition. They got a lot of second-chance points but also they got to the paint and scored at a very high clip."