Sixers show fight but fall short against Knicks in Lowry’s hometown debut

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Kyle Lowry (7) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks’ Precious Achiuwa (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Following a much-needed break after All-Star weekend, the Philadelphia 76ers returned home to face Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks. The Sixers received reinforcements in the form of Nico Batum and Tobias Harris, who returned from injury, and also the hometown debut of Kyle Lowry.

Despite the extra rest and help, the Sixers struggled mightily from the jump, falling into a quick 12-3 deficit to start the game. The Knicks’ lead grew to 11 by the end of the first and ballooned to 23 at the half. However, in the second half, the Sixers began to fight back.

Outscoring the Knicks 35-22 in the third quarter, the Sixers attempted to storm back on the back of first-time All-Star Tyrese Maxey, who scored 18 of his 35 total points in the third. Come the fourth quarter, however, exhaustion began to set in.

While most of the Sixers struggled with their shot throughout the game, Tyrese Maxey and Kyle Lowry, arguably the team’s top performers, found their legs exhausted come the fourth. Philadelphia could only muster 15 points in the entire quarter, and their best efforts were shut down as the final buzzer sounded, with the Knicks securing a 110-96 victory.

Kyle Lowry impresses in hometown debut

Philadelphia 76ers’ Kyle Lowry (7) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks’ Precious Achiuwa (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In his Sixers debut, Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry vastly exceeded expectations. While it was clear he still has more than a little something left in the tank, exactly how much was a discussion argued vigorously ahead of his first game.

In 25 minutes, Lowry scored 11 points while grabbing four rebounds and dishing five assists. He was also the only Sixer to finish with a positive plus-minus as a plus-four on the night. All this was despite taking a nasty shot to the head that required stitches mid-game.

He did have three turnovers on the night, but some of that can be attributed to the receiving player’s poor hand usage. Even still, Lowry showed something Thursday night.

It’s just one game, but already, Kyle Lowry is looking to be a sizeable upgrade over the Sixers’ pre-deadline reserve guards. As he continues to build chemistry in Philadelphia, he’ll likely improve more and more.

Tobias Harris

Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton, right, defends against Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

There’s nothing else in this header than “Tobias Harris” because it is becoming difficult to know what to say anymore. With a sizeable amount of rest in his back pocket and plenty of opportunity in this game, Harris looked almost as if he was caught off guard that there was a game to play Thursday night.

Harris has arguably sacrificed more than any Sixer in recent memory in terms of bending his role back and forth, and by no means is that an easy task. However, it also cannot be an excuse.

The Sixers need Harris, especially while Joel Embiid continues to recover, but this version of Harris, who is so inferior to the player he can be, will not cut it. Finishing the night shooting just three of nine for seven points frankly is unacceptable, notorious contract aside.

Tobias Harris is and has always been a leader on this team. It’s time he leads by example.

Up next for the Sixers

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) gestures after hitting a 3-point basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

There’s no time to sulk or rest as the Sixers are back at it again tonight against another Eastern Conference powerhouse as they’ll host Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tip-off is set for 7:30, and you can catch the game on both ESPN and NBC Sports Philadelphia.