From Marc Berman:
Long Island’s Tobias Harris quietly fumed when he was not selected to the NBA All-Star Game after helping the Sixers to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Harris sure looked like he had a strong case Tuesday night. For one night, he took it out on his hometown team that was desperate for the offensive firepower that Harris supplied the Sixers.
Harris hit two key inside buckets down the stretch to finish with 30 points as the Knicks went cold, scoring only 14 points in the fourth quarter, and Philadelphia escaped with a defensive-oriented 99-96 victory at Wells Fargo Center.
The Knicks point-guard issues are rearing their ugly head as Derrick Rose (health and safety protocols) and Elfrid Payton (hamstring) continue to be out and Austin Rivers (paternity leave) may be done with the club.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is finding it difficult sledding deciding whom to tab in the fourth quarter between rookie Immanuel Quickley, who looked limited with a balky ankle, and Frank Ntilikina, who has gone stone cold offensively.
Starting his second straight game, Quickley missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 11 seconds left that would have tied the score. He finished with 13 points but was just 1 of 5 from 3-point land.
Ntilikina, as good a defender as he was again, went scoreless for the third straight game, going 0-for-4. He’s 0-for-15 in the last three games.
“We’re shorthanded — that’s part of it,’’ Thibodeau said.
Though they battled tough against the East’s two best teams in the Nets and Sixers on back-to-back nights, the losses dropped the eight-place Knicks’ record to 20-21. The Knicks blew a nine-point lead after three quarters with their anemic final period.
It really is kind of absurd how much they are leaning on Quickley, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong, they lean on Randle and Barrett, as well, but Randle is an All-Star veteran, Quickley is a rookie and they just need so much from him right now.
Hopefully someone of Rose and Payton get healthy by the next game. Annoyingly, the Magic are getting healthier, too, with Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier possibly ready to play on Thursday. The Magic still suck, though, so it is a good chance for the Knicks to get back to .500.
Anyhow, the Sixers are a really good team, even without Embiid, so this was as close to a “good” loss as you can get. I really thought the Knicks would get one of these games just because Thibs pushes them so hard and both games were winnable, so that’s something!
Boy, the Eastern Conference lower teams are all really bunched together right now. The Knicks are just 2.5 games back of the #4 seed, but they’re only 2 games ahead of the #11 seed!