Despite strong performances from Kevin Knox and Luke Kornet, the Knicks fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 108-105 in an unexpected matinee thriller at home. 

A Sunday matinee at The Garden—a tradition like no other. There is something special about rolling out of bed on a Sunday morning to watch basketball. Typically, the only downside to these matinees is sluggish starts. Today that was not the case. The pace was frenetic from the jump.

This game was the definition of bringing a knife to a gunfight. With no Tim Hardaway Jr., the offense had the burst of a ‘91 Civic going uphill. The Sixers, who had all their weapons available, wasted no time flexing their muscles. Before you could blink, the Sixers were up 24-8. The insertion of Frank Ntilikina, Luke Kornet, and Mario Hezonja ran some damage control, finishing the quarter on a 16-12 run.

The trio continued their run, cutting the lead to eight in the second quarter. Joel Embiid quickly snatched back control by dominating every facet of the game. His evisceration of the Knicks jump-started a run that saw the lead balloon up to 16 to end the half.

Kornet’s strong work in the first half did not go unnoticed. Fizdale swapped out a struggling Noah Vonleh—who made the start at center with Enes Kanter and Mitchell Robinson out—for the surging sophomore. The change turned this game from a laugher to a thriller.

Kornet’s presence opened up the court, allowing the Knicks to attack the rim. Open space allowed Knox to run free. Best of all, Kornet started to really piss Embiid off. There were a couple hard fouls on Luke, a clear sign of pent up frustration by the Sixers star. An agitated Embiid could be the only path to victory.

Embiid stabilized to start the fourth quarter when Vonleh re-entered the game. The Fiz Kids lineup of Kevin Knox, Frank, Emmanuel Mudiay, Damyesn Dotson, and Kornet had the crowd thinking comeback.

Sadly, the valiant effort fell short. The Sixers were desperate for a win and made sure they didn’t leave NYC without one.

All in all it was an encouraging outing. The young guys took the reins and gave us a look at what the team might look like post-deadline. Here were the best moments from the night.


Change of Plans

Frank Ntilikina returned from his three-game hiatus and wanted to make up for lost time. He started his afternoon on a nice layup and had a couple of nice feeds to Luke Kornet. The two seem to have a decent rapport for guys that have played limited minutes together. The most encouraging sign was Frank’s attacks at Embiid.

Aggression has always been the “yeah, but” with Ntilikina; taking the fight to one of the league’s premier shot blockers is what you want to see. He connected on 3-of-5 in the first half, all at the rim. The silent killer of his willingness to settle for jumpers, a Ben Simmons regimen could not be the worst thing in the world.

Ntilikina stayed with this attack in the second half, so there is hope that he has found a needed change to his game. Frank finished the night with eight points, six assists, and a pair of steals. This is the Frank Ntilikina we need every night.

Our Boy Is Growing Up

Kevin Knox is growing faster than Simba. With Timmy out, there was a huge void left to fill on offense. Knox seized the opportunity. He was relentless all day on offense. He did not shoot particularly well from three but was able to get to the rack. Playing alongside Kornet gave us a glimpse of what Knox will look like when Porzingis comes back.

The results were incredibly encouraging.

Knox finished with his first 30-point game, totaling 31 points on 12-of-23 from the floor to go with seven rebounds and a pair of steals. The increased responsibility seems to be doing wonders for the rook.


Luke Kornet was fantastic today. He had a strong outing shooting, 23 points on 7-of-13 from the floor (3-for-8 from three), but his best work was pissing off Joel Embiid. For whatever reason, Kornet has real estate in Embiid’s head:

Can’t blame Embiid when Kornet is doing this to him:

There was no doubt as to who was the best big for the team today. There was nothing the Knicks could do to stop Embiid on offense. Their only chance was to outscore him or distract him. Kornet did a little of both. These are the moments where Kornet can thrive in the present and future.

This season may be a complete wash, but at least we have our big men rotation taken care of. Luke Kornet gained the fans’ approval weeks ago. Now, he might have gained the team’s.

Final Notes

  • Ben Simmons had to have the quietest 20-20 game of all time. With Embiid acting up it was easy to miss, but Simmons was an assist shy from 20-point, 22-rebound triple-double.
  • Noah Vonleh was unusually bad in this game. He was able to handle Giannis, but Embiid was simply too much for him.
  • Knicks head across the pond to take on the Wizards in London on Thursday.