The Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings faced off for the second and final time this season on Saturday night. Leading up to the matchup, the game lost a bit of its juice as Sacramento's top star De'Aaron Fox was ruled out early due to ankle soreness. He was set to miss his fourth-straight game on Saturday.
Despite not having Fox in the lineup, the Kings found early success against the Sixers on Saturday night in South Philly. In the first quarter, Harrison Barnes led the Kings by scoring ten of their first 31 points.
After that, it became the Tyrese Haliburton show as the second-year guard flashed dominance against the Sixers throughout the night.
Starting quietly in the first quarter, Haliburton put up four points in eight minutes. For his next nine minutes on the floor, the young guard went 3-5 from the field and drained five of six free throws to put up 12 points in the second quarter.
Haliburton helped the Kings achieve a double-digit lead over the Sixers heading into halftime. Through two quarters, he had 16 points in 18 minutes of action. When the third quarter rolled around, the young guard played every minute and accounted for eight of Sacramento's 22 points.
While his third-quarter showing wasn't as impressive as the first half, Haliburton wasn't cooling down. Instead, he was just beginning to heat up as his fourth-quarter performance was jaw-dropping in Philadelphia.
In nearly ten minutes of action, Haliburton was perfect from the field as he drained all five of his shots. Four of those successful attempts came from beyond the arc. The Kings only scored 18 points in the final quarter of Saturday's game, and Haliburton was responsible for 14 of them.
With a bit of help from his supporting cast, the Kings might've been able to pull off the upset win. However, a missed Harrison Barnes three with one second left helped the Sixers pick up their 30th win of the year on Saturday night.
Praise for Haliburton
The Sixers always issue credit where it's due. While they didn't have the most satisfying win over a lesser and undermanned Kings team, they were still left impressed by the second-year guard, who put up 38 points in 40 minutes for the other team.
"Woo! I think that describes enough of it right there," said Sixers veteran Danny Green, in regards to Haliburton's game. "That side-step back fade away over the backboard in the corner, I thought that was, for sure, gonna come off hard. It didn't touch anything but the net, and that kind of shows the night he had.
"He was getting the free-throw line a lot, though. He was very active. He was getting to the paint. He made some adjustments. But the fact that he was getting downhill and getting to his floater opened up the game a lot for him and them. So, we tried to get him off the free-throw line, but when he started hitting the three-ball, he had a good rhythm. He kept them in the game," Green finished.
Haliburton made a bit of a name for himself around the league last year as the former 12th overall pick quickly developed into a solid prospect. While he hasn't quite reached stardom in Sacramento, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was far from surprised about Haliburton's performance.
"I'm never surprised by anyone," he explained. "This is the NBA. Anybody can have a night on any night. You see it all the time. He made some tough shots. I thought early on we didn't guard him very well, but he's a good player. He's a terrific player."
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.