- Matt Slocum/AP
The New York Knicks’ downward spiral continued Wednesday night with a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, their ninth in 10 games.
Making the loss worse, the Knicks were up 13 at one point in the fourth quarter, and even after a run by the 76ers, pushed their lead back to 10 with less than three minutes remaining.
Yet the Sixers charged back again with a furious run, cutting the Knicks lead to one by the final possession, before guard T.J. McConnell sank a game-winner.
Here’s how it happened.
With 2:18 remaining, the Knicks led 93-83, when rookie center Joel Embiid drove the lane for an impressive floater, plus the foul. He converted the three-point play.
On the following play, Derrick Rose attempted an alley-oop to Carmelo Anthony, but Embiid made a fantastic hustle play, coming from the weakside to knock the ball out of Anthony’s hands, save the basket, then save it from going out of bounds.
As the Sixers ran down the court, they found Robert Covington, who nailed the three-pointer in transition. This was just the Knicks’ luck – Covington has been in a season-long slump, hitting just 28% of his three-pointers. He made 3-of-6 against the Knicks.
By the time Anthony turned around to find Covington and contest the shot it was too late – Covington was already locked and loaded.
On the next play, the 76ers called a timeout after Rose knocked down a fade-away jumper. Out of the timeout, the 76ers ran a pindown screen for Embiid (brief reminder that he’s a 7-foot center), and he banked in the three-pointer.
On the other end, Anthony, who had been hot all game, suddenly went cold. He missed a good look and the Sixers went back the other way, again getting Embiid an easy layup to cut the lead to one.
On the ensuing possession, Rose made a beautiful driving layup, to put the Knicks back up by three.
But, as has been the problem for the Knicks all season, they couldn’t hold it down on the defensive end. Rose, for all of his offensive prowess, has never been a great defender. Right after his spectacular driving layup, he failed to stay in front of Gerald Henderson, then fouled him going to the basket. Henderson hit both free throws.
With the Knicks lead down to one, they drew up a play out of a timeout that got them exactly what they wanted – an open corner three for Kristaps Porzingis. Unfortunately, Porzingis had been off all night and had been sitting for several minutes, so he entered the game cold.
We’ll let the video say the rest.
It’s a disastrous result for the Knicks, who fell to 17-22 on the season. After a hot start that saw them climb to 14-10, they’ve gone 3-12 over their last 15 games. Though they’re a short winning streak from getting back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, one wonders if this team is capable of truly competing for a playoff spot.
Meanwhile, the 76ers – the long rebuilding franchise – are 7-7 in their last 14 games and are 11-25 for the season, a big improvement from last season. Embiid is the clear-cut Rookie of the Year and a future superstar, and the long “process” is finally making strides.