By Tommy Matthews

One of the biggest differences between last season’s Sixers and this year’s bunch off the bench.

It sucked last year.

But this year’s crew, especially when Tyrese Maxey, comes off the bench, has been a difference-maker in games.

Such as Saturday night in Sacramento, which Philly won 129-127.

When the Kings trimmed their deficit down to 109-108, the Sixers immediately responded with a 5-0 run.

Maxey scored inside through contact and Shake Milton (15 points, seven assists, six rebounds) drained a three. A little later, Milton answered Fox’s jumper with a successful runner. With self-belief, poise and skill, he’s provided quite a few timely buckets this season and been valuable in shorthanded situations.

Harris fouled out with 3:06 left and the Sixers closed with Milton, Melton and Maxey all on the floor. Each player made vital free throws Saturday. The trio combined to shoot 14 for 15 at the foul line.

Georges Niang drained a 3 after a timeout, giving him 17 of the Sixers’ 49 bench points.

He passed 100 made threes on the season, and bumped his long-distance percentage up to 42.0.

His 102 makes off the bench are second in the NBA.

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