The Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks met in a clash Friday night in South Philly. Both teams came into the evening, coming off wins against the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers were able to dispatch the Bulls on Tuesday night, while the Knicks took care of them on Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden.
In a national TV game, the biggest player on the bill was Joel Embiid, but this had the potential to be a clash between two of the top guards in the Eastern Conference. Both Tyrese Maxey and Jalen Brunson are having phenomenal seasons and should be selected for the All-Star game in February.
The first quarter started off well for the Sixers as they were playing really good defense and able to turn the Knicks’ misses into transition opportunities. They were playing good defense on the Knicks stars, including Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, holding them to minimal offensive opportunities. They were able to build an early lead but hit a rut on offense late in the quarter.
This allowed the Knicks to take advantage of second chances and over-helping. The real star of the first period was Knicks guard Duece McBride, who was four of four from three-point range and ended up with 12 points.
The second quarter started with Philly in a four-point, but with Embiid on the bench, they were able to push the lead to double digits. New York was able to push the lead due to their extremely hot shooting from beyond the arc, hitting 13 first-half three-pointers. The Sixers also went ice cold in the second with about seven minutes remaining, which contributed to a 20-point halftime deficit.
The third quarter was much of the same for these teams as they traded buckets early, so the Sixers couldn’t cut into the lead. Once they were able to get some stops, the big fella was able to get going on the offensive end, as the Sixers needed another scorer to help Maxey. They fought to get back in the game, but so many bad offensive possessions in the quarter only cut the lead by three points. The Knicks had a really bad offensive quarter, and Brunson sat for the final five minutes, and the home team couldn’t cut into the lead.
The fourth quarter was never close, and the Knicks continued to get second-chance opportunities. What was a 10-point lead ballooned to a 30-plus-point lead. Nurse waved the white flag, and the Sixers ended up getting demolished by New York 128-92. The Knicks were led by Jalen Brunson, while the 76ers got their scoring punch from Joel Embiid (30 points and 10 rebounds) and Tyrese Maxey (27 points and 9 assists).
Jalen Brunson is the engine that makes the New York Knicks go. His craftiness and ability to get to the spots where he is most comfortable make him a really tough player to guard. He did a lot of his damage in the second quarter when Nico Batum wasn’t guarding him full-court.
Once he got into his rhythm, things changed offensively for the Knicks. Brunson ended the night with 30 points and ultimately won the first round of his matchup against Maxey. It’s not hard to see why the Knicks thought he could be an all-star-level guard, and he should be rewarded in February.
An off night, to say the least, for the Sixers
The Sixers were ranked top five in the league and defense and offense before tonight’s contest but they didn’t look like that team against the Knicks for much of the game. In the third quarter, their top-ranked defense showed up, but they weren’t able to get much going on offense. The Sixers gave the Knicks multiple second chances by giving up offensive rebounds due to their lack of hustle.
They missed shots they would normally make, but the most telling evidence of it being an off night was their free throw shooting. Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris all missed multiple free throws uncharacteristically. Tough night for the team all around. One note: Tobias Harris did not return in the second half due to ankle soreness, which may keep him out, depending on the severity.
Is the clock ticking?
Many may overreact to this loss in January, but it seems like every time the Sixers need a third scorer to get going when the offense needs it, the third guy doesn’t step up. Tobias Harris has been much more consistent as of late but seems to disappear in moments like these. Harris was 2-5 in the first half and had some tough sequences in the third quarter before he went out with injury. With the trade deadline upcoming and his name floating around, is the clock ticking on his time in Philly?
The Sixers will need to flush this immediately as their next contest is tomorrow night against the Utah Jazz at 7:30 PM. They will look to bounce back from their blowout loss against the New York Knicks.