The Philadelphia 76ers triumphantly escaped the franchise's worst starting record and the longest losing streak in sports with a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Defeating Kobe Bryant and Co. 103-91, the Sixers improve to 1-18 and look to achieve back-to-back wins with one against the New York Knicks at the Garden Thursday night.
Robert Covington led all scorers for Philadelphia, six of whom were in double figures, with a game-high 28 points and Nerlens Noel came off the bench for one rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds after missing the previous two games.
Though nowhere near the nightmare the Sixers are, the Knicks have lost their last four games, the most recent being a heartbreaking OT defeat at the hands of an underachieving Houston Rockets team. Without Carmelo Anthony on the floor due to reported illness, it was Arron Afflalo who emerged as the leading scorer with 31 points on 13-for-19 shooting, resilience, and clutch baskets during crunch time.
Fan favorite and rookie Kristaps Porzingis recorded his eighth double double of the season with 20 points and 13 rebounds, but the Knicks would inevitably fall 116-110 to the Rockets, falling to 8-10. The next two games on the Knicks schedule, against the Sixers and the Nets appear to be easy victories and would bring the Knicks back to the .500 mark, but with the Sixers newfound confidence, the Knicks need not underestimate them.
The matchup between the third and fourth pick of the draft is a highly anticipated one, considering ironically that much of the Knicks fan-base hoped Okafor would fall to the Knicks after the Lakers shook things up with the selection of D’Angelo Russell, and the addition of another big man to Philly seemed odd… and still is. However, the Knicks selection of the big man out of Latvia has proven to be the best choice for both the Knicks and Porzingis, keeping in mind Porzingis did not grant the Sixers a private workout during the scouting process.
As well, there has been a flurry of drama surrounding Okafor in the last week after TMZ released a video of the 19-year-old involved in a brawl outside of a nightclub in Boston. Porzingis on the other hand just prefers to watch Netflix and chill, hold the Netflix.
Though Okafor is currently leading all rookies in scoring with 17.2 points, he is known to lack a defensive game, one of the areas where Porzingis thrives. Leading all rookies in rebounding, Porzingis’ production over his last five games has been outstanding, as he has averaged 17 points and 11.6 rebounds. Quite simply put, after taking on a Dwight Howard poster, it seems unfathomable that Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor would pose a challenge for Porzingis, but time will soon but surely tell.
Anthony is expected to play Tuesday night, as will brothers Jerian Grant and Sixers’ Jerami Grant, who will play against each other for the first time in their NBA careers. Both teams desperately need a win and both teams never fail to demonstrate effort on both ends of the floor, so what it’ll inevitably come down to is who wants it more.