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TJ McConnell downs Knicks with buzzer beater jumper

Timothy John McConnell plays hero for the Sixers against the Knicks.

NBA: New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday night’s matchup between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers attracted a lot of national attention, as many hoped to feast their eyes on the first of many battles between Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis.

But in the Sixers 98-97 victory over the Knicks, it was one Timothy John McConnell who ended up stealing the show.

New York controlled the game for most of the night, exploding for 32 points in the first quarter.

Despite dealing with what he described as a bad shoulder injury, 32-year-old Carmelo Anthony led the scoring charge for most of the game. The Sixers threw a plethora of defenders at him -- from Robert Covington to Dario Saric to Gerald Henderson -- and none of them limit his shooting. Anthony spent most of his evening operating from the elbow extended, and did most of his scoring by taking contested mid-range jumpers. He finished the game with 28 points while shooting 11-25 from the floor.

He helped extend the Knicks lead to 15 going into the half, but Philadelphia refused to go away. The Sixers cut the deficit to four points by the end of the third, setting up for a bizarre final frame.

New York extended the lead back to 13, and then went scoreless for over three minutes, allowing the Sixers to once again climb back in the game. A combined 14 points from Robert Covington and Embiid cut the lead to one point with just 51 seconds left.

Derrick Rose, who returned to the team on Wednesday after missing Monday’s game with an unknown family emergency, carried the Knicks through the final minutes when Anthony disappeared. He hit a mid-range jumper with 1:23 left to extend the lead to six, then followed it up with an amazing up and under layup that barely avoided the outstretched arm of Embiid to keep the Knicks lead at three with 34 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Gerald Henderson earned a trip to the line, and his two free throws made it 97-96.

Out of a timeout with 27 seconds left on the clock, solid ball movement from the Knicks resulted in an open corner three-point attempt for Porzingis, but his shot barely grazed the net, allowing the Sixers a chance at the final shot.

Brett Brown opted not to use his last timeout, and despite the helter-skelter nature of their last possession, Ersan Ilyasova managed to find TJ McConnell on the baseline, who somehow knocked down a turnaround jumper with time expiring over the outstretched arm of Porzingis.

The Wells Fargo Center predictably exploded as the Sixers won their fourth game in the last five.

McConnell, who continues to excel as the team’s starting point guard, finished with eight points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals in 34 minutes of action. His strong, well-rounded guard play has helped the Sixers secure more wins than just the one on Wednesday.

Embiid struggled through the first three-and-a-half quarters, but came through during crunch time. Seven of his 21 points came in the final 2:17 of the game, and his 14 rebounds (five offensive, nine defensive) were a career high for the rookie.

While neither had a tremendous game, Embiid certainly managed to get the best of Porzingis, who finished with just seven points on 3-10 shooting.

Philadelphia will be back in action on Friday when Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets head to the Wells Fargo Center to take on one of basketball’s hottest teams.

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