York Knicks forward Julius Randle drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and guard De’Anthony Melton. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The Knicks shook off an overtime loss on Saturday night to earn a 108-97 win over the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to a stellar performance from the Knicks bench players to turn around a 21-point first-quarter deficit.
Just moments before the tip the Knicks announced RJ Barrett was doubtful with a non-COVID illness. Possible Sixth Man of the Year Immanuel Quickley replaced him in the starting lineup along with Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, Jericho Sims, and Quentin Grimes.
Here are the takeaways….
– After a slow start by both offenses, the 76ers found their touch but the Knicks did not. Randle went 4 for 9 (0 for 3 from three) for 12 points and Brunson 2 for 5 (0 for 1 from three) for six in the opening period. Of course, the duo did combine for 75 percent of the Knicks’ first points.
At the other end of the floor, Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 11 points and De’Anthony Melton hit 3-of-4 from deep to add 9. Philadelphia opened the game shooting 12 for 19 (63.2 percent) from the floor and 4 for 7 (57.1 percent) from three. James Harden was held scoreless but contributed seven assists in the first.
– After Sims picked up a pair of early fouls, Isaiah Hartenstein was the first man off the bench, but the early onslaught from the Sixers did not abate as the visitors put together a 7-0 run and a 12-0 run to build a sizable first quarter lead.
But the Knicks hung around and answered with a 9-0 run, capped by a Miles McBride three, to make it a 35-24 game after 12 minutes.
– New York righted the ship from there and scored the first eight points of the second frame leading to a Doc Rivers timeout in the hopes of halting New York’s 17-0 run, powered mostly by the bench.
After trailing 33-12 in the first, the Knicks entered the half down just 53-51, in what had to be a win for a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
– Barrett who was doubtful did not feature in the game which meant, Evan Fournier returned to action for the first time since Thursday, Feb. 2’s win in Miami. This was only his seventh appearance in 2023 out of 18 games. And Fournier made the most of his opportunity, knocking down his first three baskets, including two from deep, during the Knicks’ first-half surge. He finished with 17 points, a season-high on 6-of-11 shooting (5-of-8 from behind the arc).
– A Randle step-back three to open the second half momentarily gave the Knicks their first lead since it was 2-0 under 90 seconds into the game. But New York’s starting unit continued to struggle against their counterparts from Philadelphia and the lead was back up to eight just five minutes through into the third quarter.
Sloppiness defined the opening of the second half with both teams committing silly turnovers, including a five-second call on Brunson attempting to inbound under the basket. Philly committed 11 turnovers and 23 fouls on the night. New York had nine turnovers and 28 fouls, with Hartenstein and Fournier fouling out.
A late 9-3 stretch kept the Knicks within three at the start of the 4th.
– When trailing after 36 minutes, the Knicks were winless in 11 tries, but a 10-0 run capped by a Fournier three gave the Knicks an 86-82 lead with 8:45 to play and forced Rivers to call another timeout.
– And that was the key for New York on Sunday: The Knicks bench players ate the Sixers bench’s lunch. McBride (plus 34 in 23 minutes), Fouriner (plus 28 in 24 minutes), Hartenstein (plus 19 in 26 minutes) and Toppin (plus 17 in 14 minutes).
For the visitors: Shake Milton (-26 in 10 minutes), Tyrese Maxey (-23 in 22 minutes), Georges Niang (-20 in 9 minutes), Matisse Thybulle (-17 in 10 minutes), Montrezl Harrell (-15 in 3 minutes) and Paul Reed (-14 in 8 minutes).
The Knicks’ starting five all finished with negative plus-minus and the Sixers’ starters all finished on the plus side.
– The Sixers’ offense completely stagnated in the 4th quarter with empty trips and a few trips to the free throw line, when the knicks bagged threes from Fournier and McBride before back-to-back buckets from Randle put the Knicks up 10 with 1:39 to play.
In the battle of the dynamic duos: Randle led the way for the Knicks with 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and Burnson added 21 points, five rebounds and seven assists for New York. Embiid led all scorers with 31 points (going 18 for 19 from the charity stripe) and added 14 rebounds and Harden added 12 on 4-of-11 shooting with 12 assists and eight rebounds in a losing effort.
– Sunday was the third of four matchups between the two teams this season. The Knicks won in Philadelphia in November before dropping the Christmas Day matchup at the Garden. The season series concludes Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Knicks are back in action Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. tip on the road against the Orlando Magic.