- Associated Press - Friday, March 13, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia coach Brett Brown got mad. Then his team got even - and then some.

With the 76ers trailing the Sacramento Kings by 13 points at halftime Friday night, Brown tore into his players.

They responded, rallying from a deficit that reached 18 early in the third quarter for a 114-107 victory.

Robert Covington scored 24 points and Nerlens Noel added 16 points and 12 rebounds to help the Sixers win for the second time in their last seven games. They are 15-50.

“Coach got on us pretty bad,” said backup point guard Ish Smith, who was instrumental in the comeback. “He got on us really bad at halftime. … He just wasn’t happy. Anything you can think of, we weren’t doing anything well. … Coach was like, ‘That’s not the culture we’re trying to build here.’”

Brown said it was “as poor a defensive first half as we’ve played all year.”

“It is a complete misrepresentation of who we are,” he added, “and that’s what we talked about at halftime. … But to our guys’ credit, they found a way to get back in it, in a big way.”

DeMarcus Cousins matched his season high of 39 points and added a career-high 24 rebounds for Sacramento. The Kings dropped to 22-42, guaranteeing their ninth straight losing season.

Rudy Gay had 24 points for Sacramento.

The Kings led 73-55 with 8:46 left in the third quarter, but managed just two field goals the rest of the period, fueling a 33-9 flurry by the Sixers.

Philadelphia’s reserves accounted for the last 15 points in that stretch, giving the 76ers an 88-82 lead at the end of the period.

Smith was particularly effective, scoring five points in the last 3:09 of the period and setting up Hollis Thompson for a 3-pointer and Henry Sims for a layup.

The Sixers then scored eight of the first 10 points in the fourth quarter as well, giving them a 96-84 lead with 8:41 left.

Sacramento later cut the gap to 106-103. Then Smith found Noel for a dunk and made a pair of free throws.

Smith finished with 10 points and nine assists in 25 minutes.

“I was just playing,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m doing out there. I’m just going. … Y’all are writing, ‘What the (heck) is he doing? No wonder he’s been on 25 teams.’”

Smith signed with the Sixers on Feb. 22. They are his eighth team in five NBA seasons.

Cousins had 22 and 15 rebounds in the first half, when the Kings erased an early nine-point deficit to claim a 64-51 halftime lead.

Covington had 19 points in the first half for the Sixers.


Kings: It was Sacramento’s first of two meetings with Philadelphia this season. The teams square off again on March 24 in Sacramento. … It was also the next-to-last game of an eight-game trip for the Kings. Coach George Karl, hired on Feb. 17, said before the game that the trip did not come at the best time for his team, because the Kings were just settling into a rhythm before hitting the road. …, Darren Collison missed his 16th straight game with a core muscle injury. … Ryan Hollins did not play because of back spasms.

76ers: Guard Jason Richardson, who returned earlier this season after missing two years with knee and foot injuries, rested on the front end of a back-to-back. He is expected to play Saturday night against Brooklyn. … Isaiah Canaan returned to the starting lineup at point guard, after coming off the bench in Wednesday’s loss to Chicago because of illness. … Sixers assistant Chad Iske served in a similar capacity to George Karl in Denver, and Kings assistant Vance Walberg began this season with the Sixers before taking a job in Sacramento shortly after Karl was hired. The two of them had also worked together with the Nuggets.


Noel said Cousins is as challenging as any center he has faced as a rookie this year.

Both played at Kentucky - Cousins in 2009-10, Noel in 2012-13. But Noel, listed at 6-foot-11 and 220 pounds, was giving away 50 pounds.

“He’s a big, big boy,” he said. “I’ll just go eat a couple Big Macs and think about that. … It was definitely a challenge tonight, and I’ll definitely learn from it.”


Kings: At Washington on Saturday night.

76ers: Host Brooklyn on Sunday night.

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