3 observations after the Sixers fought in the fourth quarter to beat the annoying Knicks

3 observations after the Sixers fought in the fourth quarter to beat the annoying Knicks

The Sixers’ first three wins after the All-Star break were all decided long before the dying minutes.
Tuesday night’s 99-96 victory over the Knicks was another story. The Sixers came back from a nine-year drop early in the last period to claim their sixth consecutive victory overall and improve to 28-12.

RJ Barrett missed on a short jumper who could have tied the game with about 20 seconds remaining. Furkan Korkmaz was then the victim of an intentional foul and made one of two free throws. Immanuel Quickley missed another potential equalizer on possession that followed, and the Sixers sealed the deal from there.

“The game was physical – a lot of grip, a lot of fouls both ways,” said Sixers head coach Doc Rivers. “Too much frustration, in my opinion. It was a good test for us, because that’s how some of the playoffs will be. Not all of them, but you’ll get a few like this, and you’ll have to find a way to win. To win this game tonight without Joel (Embiid) on the pitch and things not going the way you want them early on was a big statement from this team.

Tobias Harris and Seth Curry were the Sixers’ top scorers with 30 and 20 points respectively. Ben Simmons had 16 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, while Julius Randle led the Knicks with 19 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.

The Sixers will look to extend their streak to seven on Wednesday night when they play the Bucks. Here are three observations on their victory over New York:

Night back

The same starters the Sixers used in Sunday night’s 35-point win over Spurs struggled to score in their first stint.

Danny Green, after scoring 11 of the Sixers’ first 15 points against San Antonio, missed his first five shots. The Sixers as a team started 2 for 11. New York played hard physical defense, putting constant pressure away from the hoop on Green, Curry and Harris and making it difficult for the Sixers to set a pace.

The Sixers and Knicks shot 40.9 percent from the ground in the first period, a byproduct of good defensive focus and a temperamental outside shot. As Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey observed on Twitter, it looked like the game was set in another century.

Green eventually landed a shot and had four interceptions and one block, although his night didn’t improve much on offense. A 1-for-10 shooting performance from a starter is certainly more difficult to overcome with Embiid (who turned 27 on Tuesday) sidelined by a bruise on his left knee. Korkmaz closed the match against Green.

Not for the first time this season, the Sixers’ turnovers have been costly, boosting New York’s transition attack. The Knicks, meanwhile, prevented the Sixers from having many easy quick-break chances, as the game was played mostly on their terms.

In total, the Sixers’ 12 turnovers led to 22 Knicks points. The Sixers took very good care of the ball down the home stretch, not turning it once in the fourth quarter.

Rely on Harris

With the Sixers’ offense struggling late in the second quarter and the team frustrated with the refereeing, Harris made two big threes and Simmons led for a layup and one to tie the game.

The Knicks weren’t deterred by the brief swing, scoring seven straight points and building an eight-point lead at halftime. Simmons, Harris and Dwight Howard scored 34 of the Sixers’ 48 points in the first half. Their teammates shot just 4 for 21 from the ground.

Curry started rolling early in the third quarter, converting a four-point play, two catch-and-shoot lines and a runner. He also made a key three green light in the fourth.

As for Harris, he has shown a talent this season to succeed when the Sixers are in desperate need of a hoop. After a silent stretch, he produced two key buckets at the end of the fourth. He yelled, “I’m an All-Star” after his basket to put the Sixers up four.

“It’s just reaffirming this to myself,” Harris said. “I know the fans know that, but reaffirming it to them and to myself, especially making these big plays. I try to find motivation in different areas. one of them, and on top of that, I’m just thinking about the challenge of getting Joel out. It’s a new challenge presented to us as a team and I want to take on that challenge, because I know how good a team we are with him, and I know how good we are as a team, even without to see her.

“Obviously we need him, but at the same time I take on all these challenges. What anybody has to say doesn’t really affect me because I know that when I look everyone in that dressing room in the eye before the game, we’re ready to go out and win.

They didn’t always match because neither team wanted to change, but the Harris v Randle game was fun to watch. Both players have become leaders their teams can rely on, with Randle’s assists and Harris’s ability to fight through contact to achieve the qualities of his favorite spots that jumped on Tuesday.

Rivers also wanted to make sure Harris’ defense wasn’t overlooked.

“Defensively tonight, Tobias was phenomenal,” he said. “He was as good as I have ever seen him. He’s had a ton of deviations, he got his hands on Randle. I thought that was the key to the game – Tobias Harris’ defense. He allowed us to keep Randle 1 to 1, for the most part. It’s hard to do because Randle is a hell of a gamer. I thought that was the key to the game.

Howard plays a big role

Howard had a tip-in at the end of the first quarter and a slam put-back at the start of the second.

Other than his projection, rolls and offensive rebounds, there wasn’t much else to work on for the Sixers’ second unit in the first half. Former Sixer and current Knick Alec Burks, who scored 19 points, might have been a useful player for Rivers. At the other end of the field, Howard and the Sixers were content to let Taj Gibson try to open the three points, and he missed his first two.

This strategy was sound against a 30% three-point shooter, but it’ll be interesting to see what the Sixers do without Embiid when they face a legitimate five-shot. In theory, this might be a good time to try more of Simmons at the center, although Howard’s energy and output has generally been flawless in recent games. He recorded 11 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks against the Knicks.

Howard played 28 minutes on Tuesday, while Tony Bradley played 17. Perhaps Rivers didn’t want to dent Bradley’s confidence or overtax his 35-year-old center, but the split could have been further pushed in the direction of Howard, especially since Bradley didn’t. have a good night. Maybe Howard playing a lot more than Bradley but continuing to start games off the bench could be Rivers’ approach moving forward.

Howard clearly loved playing in front of the fans the last two games at Wells Fargo Center. After his fourth quarter rejection on Randle, it was hard to believe that only 3,000 fans were in the building.

Why does Rivers think Howard increased his level of play after the All-Star level hiatus?

“Probably the drinks he had in Puerto Rico or wherever he went for the break,” Rivers joked. “He was able to relax. … I think that’s just who he is, No.1. I think the fans are helping. He loves the audience. But it is so important to us. I thought he stabilized us in the first half and came to play games. I thought the Knicks were doing with us in the physicality department, and then we started Dwight that all changed. That’s what he does for your team.


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