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Despite pregame reports, Harden-Embiid duo dominant again vs. Knicks in Christmas win

The superstar duo of James Harden and Joel Embiid propelled the Sixers to their eighth straight win over the Knicks at MSG on Christmas.

Philadephia 76ers v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sixers were gifted their eighth win in a row when they knocked off the New York Knicks 119-112. Philly rode hot shooting as they made 46 percent of their threes in a shootout. Joel Embiid finished with 35 and eight after a slow start. James Harden gave the Sixers 29 points along with 13 assists.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • It is a complete shame that the NBA stopped making Christmas jerseys, especially considering the fact that Nike is pretty insistent on giving each team a new jersey every year.
  • One last random note: these Knicks have to be the most left-handed team in NBA history.
  • Julius Randle has been having himself a week, and that continued in the first quarter. P.J. Tucker really struggled to keep Randle in front of him as Randle scored 13. The Knicks shot 50 percent from the field to start the game, putting up 37 points in the first.
  • The Sixers’ offense looked clunky out of the gate, and that was largely because Joel Embiid looked clunky out of the gate. His midrange wasn’t falling early, going 2 of 6 in his first stint on the floor, and he was reacting pretty slow to the double teams New York threw at him.

Second Quarter

  • After going through a slight cold streak the past couple of games, De’Anthony Melton got it going in the first half. He was a perfect 4 of 4 from the field, all coming from beyond the arc.
  • Philly shot 7 of 9 from deep in the second, including a half-court heave from Shake Milton to cut the lead to three before the break.
  • No surprise the Sixers struggled to keep New York off the offensive glass, given the Knicks’ length and the fact that this is the Sixers. Philly losing second-chance points 19-3 was a big reason the Knicks were able to keep their lead despite the Sixers starting to hit some outside shots.

Third Quarter

  • Embiid got it going after a slow start from the field. Former teammate JJ Redick confirmed on the broadcast that the big fella is not a noon guy, and was not surprised it took him some time to get in a rhythm. Fifteen of his 35 came in the third quarter. The play of his that impressed me the most was finding Tucker for this and-1.
  • It was an explosive quarter for both teams, as the Knicks shot 13 of 18 from the field in the third. A couple of threes from James Harden as the quarter ended allowed the Sixers to cut the lead to just one point heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

  • The Sixers were able to take their first lead of the game, led by Harden and the bench unit. Harden had a good shooting day, but he was especially hot as the third ended and the fourth began. Despite the team defense being a mess, it felt like Harden’s best defensive game as a Sixer. All three of his steals felt like they came at huge moments.
  • Everything started going the Sixers way as they went on a 19-4 run to open the fourth. The defensive intensity Philly was lacking in the first half was there in the second, as the Knicks scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter.
  • The Sixers can make it a nine-game winning streak when they go to Washington Tuesday night to take on the Wizards.
  • To everyone in the LB community, thank you so much for following us, especially today. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

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