Another game, another win for interim head coach Mike Woodson. This one was a 82-79 victory over the division rival 76ers in Philadelphia. Amar’e Stoudemire had one of his best games of the season, scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while showing energy and tenacity that has been missing all year. Jeremy Lin scored 16 of his 18 points in the 4th quarter, while the Sixers were led by Elton Brand’s 12 point, 12 rebound, five block performance. The win gives the Knicks the season series over Philly 2-1, meaning the Knicks own the tiebreaker in case both teams end up with the same record at the end of the year.
It was a game that had playoff seeding implications and both teams treated it as a playoff game. The Knicks scored the game’s first nine points, as the Sixers got off to a dreadful start. Philadelphia shot 3-for-17 (18%) from the floor in the first quarter, but somehow managed to stay in the game, trailing by only eight after the period. They picked it up in the second quarter, shooting 10-for-19 (53%), but forgot to stop the Knicks at the other end as the ‘Bockers shot 10-for-21 (48%) to match Philadelphia’s 24 points in the period. Stoudemire led New York with 12 points at the half, including two classic Amar’e power dunks, one at the end of each of the first two quarters.
A 14-5 run by the Sixers to open up the third quarter gave them their first lead of the game at 49-48. They would respond with an 11-5 run to take a 59-53 lead, before Lou Williams scored five points in the final 35 seconds of the quarter to cut the Knicks lead to one, 59-58. The ugly third quarter performances that doomed Mike D’Antoni during the Knicks six game slide reared its head in this game. The Knicks shot just 5-for-20 from the floor (25%) in the quarter, while allowing Philadelphia to shoot 8-for-18 (44%).
The fourth quarter was a defensive battle by both teams with playoff intensity. Both teams shot under 40%. There were six blocks in the quarter, with Brand and Stoudemire providing the biggest blocks on the night. However, Jeremy Lin, on the day that Tim Tebow became a New York Jet, had another big 4th quarter, scoring 16 of his 18 points while making all 10 of his free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Sixers had some head scratching moments, including a missed layup by
Andre Iguodala with two minutes left and Philly down by three, as well as when the 76ers decided not to foul after a Jodie Meeks three pointer made it 82-79 with four seconds left.
The win now puts the Knicks a full game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have “two very winnable games” (thanks Danny Granger) this weekend against the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons, before playing the Bucks next Monday at the Garden.
Jared Jeffries re-aggravated his knee in the game and will not play against the Raptors on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Bucks play the Celtics tomorrow night in a game of interest to Knicks fans.