After a solid win at home against the Bulls on Friday night the Sixers traveled to the Big Apple to take on the New York Knicks. One of the Sixers’ biggest problems this year has been games away from home, but playing the 11-31 Knicks seemed like it could be a recipe for success.
The first quarter was back and forth for much of the opening 12 minutes as neither team could get a stop. Both Marcus Morris and Julius Randle were the catalysts for the Knicks offense, Morris finished the quarter with a game high nine points, Randle with eight. None on the Sixers starters particularly stood out in the opening frame, Ben Simmons was very aggressive which led to six points, three rebounds and two assists, but it was Furkan Korkmaz who once again performed in the spotlight. He had eight points to pace the Sixers in the first quarter in which the Sixers ended up 28-25.
The second quarter saw Raul Neto check into the game as the Sixers backup point guard, once again taking that role from Trey Burke. Besides Neto getting minutes the other notable change in the rotation was Norvel Pelle being active and playing as the backup center. After tonight the big man has only one day left of NBA eligibility on his two-way contract. The Sixers were able to get a bit of breathing room in the second quarter, leading at one point by ten until the Knicks went on a 15-5 run to tie it up once again. Things got a bit testy for a minute after a questionable Marcus Morris hit on Josh Richardson that led to a technical, but cooler heads prevailed. The Sixers ended the quarter in style with a few big Ben Simmons dunks to take a six point lead into halftime, 52-46.
Just like the entire first half this quarter was back and forth for the most part. Early in the quarter Al Horford took a hard fall on his wrist and looked to be in a considerable amount of pain, but he remained in the game. With no Embiid and no consistent backup center option at the minute, losing Horford would be a giant loss. Furkan Korkmaz gave the Sixers stagnant offense a shot in the arm again as he hit a four point play and a floater on back to back offensive possessions. Even with Korkmaz bringing some kind of spark the Knicks just felt like a team with much more energy this quarter. By the end of it the Sixers lead dwindled down to a single point, heading into the final frame up 70-69.
As if the final quarter would be any different, the Sixers and Knicks threw their best punches in an attempt to create any separation, and it didn't work. Both sides had answered for their opponents as the game seemed destined to go down to the final moments. The Sixers went through a brutal few minutes where they couldn't score a point which let the Knicks to take control. A Marcus Morris jumper over Ben Simmons gave the Knicks their first lead since the second quarter, but it was Tobias Harris who decided to play hero tonight. He drained a three to give the Sixers a two point lead and then helped Ben Simmons on a double team of Julius Randle to force a turnover on defense. In the end the Sixers escaped with a 90-87 win to break a six game road losing streak. Ben Simmons finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, the other star of the game was Furkan Korkmaz who finished with 17 points off the bench.
A win is a win, but man that was ugly. Breaking that road losing streak was nice and something the team can hopefully use as a springboard to get out of the rut they’re in.