NEW YORK — Joel Embiid wanted to give Sixers fans the gift of a win on Christmas Day. He and his teammates accomplished that with a 105-98 victory over the Knicks.
The Sixers snapped a five-game losing streak and improved to 15-18 on the season.
Kristaps Porzingis (22 points, seven rebounds) garners attention in any game and is the player on the Knicks to watch, but this one turned into a battle of the centers. Enes Kanter put up a massive 31-point, 22-rebound double-double. Embiid was right behind with 25 points and 16 boards in 34 minutes.
• Embiid played after going through pregame warmups to test his back. Taking the court on Christmas Day was significant to him.
“To me, it’s special because I’ve been here four years and we’ve gone through a lot and a lot of losing,” he said before the game. “To be in this type of matchup, especially with the whole world watching on Christmas, I’m excited.”
• Turnovers (15 total) crept in toward the end of the game. After Simmons put the Sixers up 103-95 with a two-handed fastbreak dunk, New York's Courtney Lee stole the ball from Embiid with 30 seconds to go. Lee drained a three on the break and Embiid fouled Porzingis on the play, setting up a potential four-point play. But Porzingis missed the free throw and Embiid secured the rebound.
• Embiid took spills throughout the game, including one chasing a ball out of bounds and another colliding with Jarrett Jack during a drive to the basket. Jack was called for a Flagrant 1, which sparked a free-throw shooting flurry by Embiid, who finished 7 for 8 from the line.
• T.J. McConnell has a flair for playing against the Knicks. Remember, he hit a game-winning buzzer-beater on them last season. On Monday, he contributed a season-high 15 points off the bench. McConnell became the first Sixers reserve player to score 15 points on Christmas Day since 1988 when Ron Anderson and Gerald Henderson both reached that mark.
• JJ Redick made his return after missing the last two games because of right hamstring tightness. The veteran quickly got into a rhythm, scoring 15 points in the first half. He finished with 24 (4 for 8 from three, 8 for 8 from the line).
• Both Dario Saric and Robert Covington had off-shooting afternoons. Covington went 2 for 8 from the field and 1 for 4 from three. Saric kept looking for his shot when it wasn’t falling, going 4 for 15 from the field and 0 for 6 from long range.
• Before the game, Simmons (eight points, eight rebounds, three assists) gifted all of his teammates with Beats by Dre headphones.
• The Sixers played on Christmas Day for the first time since 2001, when they competed in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Historically, the Sixers are 6-5 against the Knicks on Christmas Day (five games as the Syracuse Nationals) but have not faced them on Dec. 25 since 1978.