Knicks lose to lowly Sixers in late lousy defensive effort
It was the fifth straight loss and third straight at home for the Knicks — not a good sign for a team in the midst of an eight-game homestand.
The Knicks played about as well as they have all season on the offensive end Wednesday night, but it still wasn’t enough, as the 76ers played at a level higher in a 110-105 win.
New York’s balanced scoring attack was offset by Sixers swingman Evan Turner’s career-high 34 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Turner’s timely buckets down the stretch keyed an 18-6 Philadelphia run in the middle of the fourth quarter that countered New York’s own 13-0 run to start the final stanza.
Turner’s excellence wasn’t alone, as three other Sixers starters tallied double-digit points. Thaddeus Young, rookie Michael Carter-Williams and James Anderson had 19, 19 and 18 points, respectively. Young’s 3-pointer with 1:51 remaining, followed by a tough Turner baseline fadeaway jumper on the next possession, proved to be the daggers to silence a raucous Garden crowd.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson lamented the lead his team gave up following their own lengthy run.
“Right now we’re so tight. I thought we played great offensively, but we weren’t there defensively,” said Woodson. “It was just too many points. One hundred and 10 points is too many. When there’s a close game, it’s about execution. We failed to execute [when we were] down two [points] and we give up a big 3. We just didn’t execute.”
The Knicks (15-27) haven’t executed much lately as they’ve now endured their fifth straight loss and third straight at home— not a good sign for a team in the midst of an eight-game homestand.
Woodson, though, is still holding out hope his team can stay within striking distance.
“We’re not out of the hunt. We’re still there, with three games out of the eighth spot and like six games out of the [Atlantic] Division lead,” Woodson said. “Somewhere we gotta figure it out to stay in the hunt and remain in the playoff hunt ... and I have to make sure we push to get there.”
There was little resistance from Woodson’s squad down the stretch, as they blew multiple assignments in crucial spots.
Woodson, who has been under fire lately due to his team’s defensive breakdowns at inopportune moments, was clearly exasperated afterward— particularly following Young’s big 3-point shot.
“We botched it up. It was a botched defensive play on our part because we saw it earlier but still didn’t defend it,” said Woodson, noting he went with a smaller lineup in the fourth quarter for defensive purposes. “I just went to a defensive stand point with [Carmelo Anthony] at the four [power forward]. We gave up a lot of points in the first quarter, so I thought if it came down to it in the fourth I’d go with what worked in the past. I thought we’d make it happen with the group I had in coming down the stretch.”
The stretch run was again the Knicks’ Achilles’ heel as the Sixers (14-28) got open looks off blown Knicks’ assignments as well as extra hustle plays from a spry and youthful Sixers unit.
“They were pretty much getting any shot they wanted. They played aggressive and fast. ... We just have to play better, play smarter,” said J.R. Smith. “It is [a season low point] because we’re right before the All-Star break and we’re playing and losing at home. We’re playing better on the road than at home and it should be the other way around.”
The Knicks were led by Anthony’s 28 points and 20 points from Andrea Bargnani, as every starter but point guard Raymond Felton registered double digits scoring. Felton, who has been maligned lately for his spotty play, mustered only nine points on 4-of-10 shooting. Iman Shumpert added 19 points, while Tyson Chandler recorded 10 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and a game-high three blocks. Smith contributed 14 points off the bench.
Knicks notes ...
» Bargnani got the start at power forward, as Woodson wanted a more traditional lineup with the stretch forward alongside Anthony at small forward and Chandler at center. Bargnani shot the ball well, but injured his wrist late. He said after the game there “wasn’t much they could do” late at night after the game, but he will have further tests Thursday. If the early reports of a broken wrist are true, it’ll be a long time until he contributes again.
» The Knicks had a good shooting night, 45 percent from the field and 45 percent from behind the arc, as six different players knocked down a 3-pointer. Anthony led the way with six 3-pointers.
» The Sixers aren’t known as a great rebounding team, but any time a squad plays the Knicks it will change that perception. Wednesday night wasn’t any different, as Philadelphia hammered New York on the glass, 54-39. The Sixers got contributions from every player who entered the game, but perhaps more impressive than that was the fact they were led by their key perimeter players, Turner and Carter-Williams, who tallied 11 and 12 boards, respectively.
»When asked about the early struggles of their extended homestand, Anthony was rather cryptic in agreeing with Smith: “We’ve definitely wasted some games that we should’ve won on our homecourt.”
»Anthony announced he got an invite to participate in USA Basketball in 2016. He added that while he’ll “still be young by then,” he’ll take his time to decide whether he’ll play or not.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.