Highlights: Defense steps up in Kings win over Rockets
The Kings start 2014 after a 110-106 win over the Rockets on New Year's Eve. (USATSI)
Programming note: 76ers-Kings coverage begins Thursday at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (territorial restrictions apply)
With arguably their two most impressive wins of the season in a span of five days, the Sacramento Kings are entering a long homestand with some momentum.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers hope to continue their recent road success after struggling mightily away from home.
Sacramento seeks just its second win in 11 meetings as it hosts Philadelphia on Thursday night.
The Kings (10-20) knocked off Miami, 108-103 in overtime on Friday, then followed an eight-point loss at San Antonio with a 110-106 victory in Houston on New Year's Eve.
Rudy Gay scored 25 points against the Rockets and is shooting 48.1 percent in 10 games since being acquired from Toronto. He hit just 38.8 percent of his shots in 18 games for the Raptors. Gay is 7 of 13 from 3-point range over his last three games versus Philadelphia.
DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and 16 rebounds, improving his rebounding average to 13.3 per game through his last 10 contests. Four of his points came in the final 1:32, when he also supplied a crucial steal.
"DeMarcus has proven and shown many times that he's willing to give up his body in key situations," coach Michael Malone said. "To see him do that, to be in the right spot to give his body up and give us an extra possession is big-time. He had a great game."
Cousins has underwhelmed in five games versus Philadelphia, however, averaging 13.6 points while shooting 40.3 percentage from the field.
Sacramento is beginning a season long-matching five-game homestand after playing six of eight on the road. A victory over the 76ers would be only their second in the series since Dec. 28, 2007. Philadelphia's last nine wins against the Kings have come by an average of 16.9 points.
The 76ers (10-21) are coming off back-to-back road wins after losing their previous 13 there. They posted a 114-102 victory in Denver on Wednesday with seven different players reaching double figures, scoring 44 points in the second quarter en route to a season-high 68 in the first half.
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"We're beginning to show some signs of what Coach is trying to instill in us," said Thaddeus Young, who scored 17.
With a 114-104 result over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Philadelphia's consecutive wins are also the team's first since beginning the season 3-0.
"Really want to hop on the wagon and keep this going," said Evan Turner, who scored 23 points. He had 22 against the Lakers after sitting out a game with a sore left ankle, though he's averaging just 8.8 points in five games against Sacramento.
"We're reaping the benefits of our hard work."
For the Kings, Isaiah Thomas extended his streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 24, the fourth-longest in franchise history. Thomas is averaging 24.5 points in his last two games versus Philadelphia while going 4 of 10 from beyond the arc.