Putting an end to their four-game losing streak, the New York Knicks dominated the Philadelphia 76ers as they came away with a much-needed 99-87 win. Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks in scoring with 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, recording his ninth double-double of the season. He is now tied for sixth among players with the most double-doubles, trailing behind the likes of Andre Drummond, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. The fourth overall pick following an embarrassing 17-win season never looked so good.
Despite another outstanding performance by the rookie, the Garden was relatively quiet throughout the game aside from some Porzingis chants after an alley-oop slam in the fourth quarter. Just hours before the game, it was announced that the Sixers suspended Jahlil Okafor due to his recent off-court offenses, a decision coach Brett Brown referred to as tough love. After speaking with Okafor, Brown assures that Okafor is embarrassed by his actions and is taking this time very seriously. The highly anticipated matchup between the third and fourth overall picks in this past years draft will just have to wait until December 18th when the Knicks and Sixers meet again.
With Carmelo Anthony returning from an illness and clearly off his game, scoring just 12 points on 5-for-16 shooting, it was Porzingis and Arron Afflalo that incited the crowd inside the Mecca.
When asked about how he feels about Porzingis’ game, head coach Derek Fisher responded saying, “He’s just fully present even though he's making mistakes… He's completely wrapped up in the game that particular night… He’s playing the game that’s in front of him that night.”
Meanwhile Phil Jackson, who is beaming over his pick whom Knicks fans mercilessly booed on draft night, said that there is a “magical element” to the big man that has made the fans fall in love.
Afflalo on the other hand has been an extremely effective offensive punch over the last two games, in which he has shot 18-for-27. Recording 13 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday night’s victory over the Sixers, Afflalo continues to flaunt his arsenal of skillful moves from mid-range, three-point territory, and in the post. He and Porzingis were two of six players in double figures. Jose Calderon finished with 11 points, Lance Thomas added 10 off the bench, and Jerian Grant, who seemed to have entered a shooting slump, finished with 12 points.
The Knicks were in command through four quarters, never once giving up the lead. But it wasn’t difficult to outscore an already-struggling Sixers team, never mind without their leading scorer in Okafor. Shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and going 9-for-30 from three-point range, Okafor’s 17 points per game was sorely missed. Hollis Thompson led the Sixers with 13 points on just 5-for-12 shooting.
Sixers forward Jerami Grant, older brother of Jerian Grant, scored six points on 2-for-10 shooting which included an air ball that garnered disturbed reactions from the fans. Needless to say, the younger Grant outplayed his older brother, but he praised him for working hard after the game.
Meanwhile, Robin Lopez looks forward to playing his brother in their next game against the Brooklyn Nets Friday night at the Garden. With a win over Brooklyn the Knicks will move back up to .500, while the Sixers await their next victory, hoping it won’t take another 18 games to get there.