Despite a go-ahead jumper from Marcus Morris to put the Knicks up with 43 seconds left, New York fell to the Sixers for the 11th consecutive time.
The Knicks (11-32) fell to the Philadelphia 76ers (28-16) 90-87 in their third loss to the Sixers this season. Philly snapped its six-game road losing streak in the process.
Once again, the Knicks kept it close with the title-contending Sixers, although tonight New York was aided by Joel Embiid’s absence due to injury. The Knicks lost their first two matchups by 11 combined points.
The first quarter was tightly competitive. Each team made their first three shots; there were nine lead changes and the Sixers led by only three points at the quarter’s end.
The Sixers pushed the lead to as much as 10 points in the second quarter. A 15-5 mid-quarter run from New York tied the game, with Taj Gibson recorded seven points alone, taking it right to Al Horford on the inside.
Taj Gibson is in his BAG and Al Horford is in the BLENDER 🌪 pic.twitter.com/sI6Hwyt3GP— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 19, 2020
New York was able to keep the Sixers in striking distance throughout the second half. They entered the fourth quarter only down by one point.
The Knicks kept the deficit in single digits the whole way. They found themselves down one point with 3:37 left to play and took the lead with 31 seconds left, but couldn’t hold on for the win.
The Knicks’ kryptonite was Ben Simmons. No one could keep him from driving into the paint. He had 16 points on 7-of-10 field goal shooting at halftime and ended the night with a game-high 21 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds.
The Knicks also struggled to contain Philadelphia’s fast break. The Sixers (chiefly Simmons) got up the court quickly, getting easy buckets time after time. Josh Richardson did some damage there, too, on his way to scoring 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
Philly’s defense also made New York sweat. Simmons and Richardson led the way. Rookies Matisse Thybulle and Norvel Pelle were disruptive as well. The Sixers forced the Knicks to shoot under 40% from the field.
Per usual, Marcus Morris and Julius Randle controlled the Knicks’ offense. With Tobias Harris, a weak defender, matched up with him, Randle looked to take advantage. Randle finished with 14 points (eight coming in the first quarter) and 12 rebounds on 5-for-13 shooting.
Someone please call Tobias Harris some help. He can’t handle Randle pic.twitter.com/krMeMY0EIc— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 19, 2020
Morris was the Knicks’ go-to guy down the stretch and led the team in scoring with 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
The Knicks were without R.J. Barrett for the second time this season—this time due to a sprained ankle—but the rookie will be out for at least a week. Reggie Bullock replaced him in the starting lineup, joining Elfird Payton, Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and Taj Gibson.
Nothing changed too drastically about how the Knicks played. They still ran most of their offense through Randle and Marcus Morris. Defensively, they could have used his help, though they didn’t fall off a cliff.
Although Headband Ro was out, Frank Ntilikina donned a headband for the first time this season.
Frank skips through the lane off the high screen from Mitch pic.twitter.com/KBoPr5u8FD— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 19, 2020
Crunch time execution
With 3:37 left to play, the Knicks found themselves down by just one. Here’s how the rest of the game went:
- Morris goes one-on-one with Simmons on the elbow and misses jump shot. Knicks force a miss and then fail to convert on three attempts in one possession.
- Robinson leaves Horford (who shot 2-of-9 on the night) open for a mid-range shot. Horford makes it, putting Philly up by three. On the next possession, Bullock drives and dishes to Robinson, narrowing the deficit to one.
- Richardson takes Robinson off the dribble after the Knicks switch. He misses the shot, but Simmons tips the ball out to Philly. Bullock intercepts a pass from Harris. On the ensuing Knicks possession, Randle, guarded by Harris, gets double-teamed by Richardson and travels.
- Richardson misses an open pull-up from the foul line. Mike Miller calls time out with 43 seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, the ball goes to Morris, who is guarded by Simmons. Morris buries a 12-foot pull-up jumper, giving the Knicks their first lead since the first quarter. Brett Brown calls timeout.
- Harris receives the inbound pass wide open and nails a three-pointer. Sixers go back up by two. Mike Miller calls a timeout. Right out of the timeout, Payton brings it up, hands the ball off to Morris. Sixers swarm Morris and force a turnover.
- Knicks look to foul Sixers to put them on the free-throw line. Furkan Korkmaz, who entered the game for Thybulle, makes one of two. Payton inbounds, as the Knicks have no more timeouts. The Sixers use their last foul. Portis subs in for Robinson and Thybulle subs in for Korkmaz.
- With 2.7 seconds left to go, Payton inbounds to Morris right in front of halfcourt. Morris’ heave misses off the back of the rim.
The Knicks are back in action Monday at 5:00 p.m. ET against the Cleveland Cavaliers.