Who knows why it is that Timothy John McConnell enjoys tormenting the New York Knicks as much as he does? Maybe he takes it particularly personal that they passed on him in the 2015 draft -- even though the other 29 teams did too, including the Sixers -- or maybe he has a weird feud with Jeff Hornacek or Courtney Lee that none of us know about. In any event, in addition to hitting the greatest shot in the history of Joel Embiid against the Knicks last year, and posting a huge 15-5-4 against them in the Sixers' Christmas win at MSG earlier this season, T.J. has now posted the first triple-double of his career -- and the first in Sixers bench history -- in a 108-92 win over the disintegrating 'Bockers.
The final score belies a little how stressful this game was for most of the first three quarters, where the Sixers seemed a little dazed on both sides of the ball, committing sloppy turnovers and playing lazy defense and allowing the undermanned Knicks to hang around in what should've been a relatively easy win for Philly. But the Sixers locked in for the final 15 minutes or so, and McConnell was absolutely everywhere as they were doing so -- not only did he end with 10 points, 10 boards and 11 dimes, but he also tied a career high with six steals. It was a spectacular performance that any Process Truster could point to as a definitive example of just what T.J. means to this team.
And both the team and the fans kinda needed a moment like this at this point in the season, I think. Despite the Sixers being in the midst of a four-game winning streak where they've won by an average of 15 points a night -- 10-0 at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018, too -- the energy around the team has been a little muted lately. Maybe we're getting spoiled, maybe we're all exhausted over the Markelle Fultz drama, maybe it's just that point in the season, but I feel like the WFC needed something to get rocking over, and they certainly got it last night.
Even Lou Williams -- who has no relationship to T.J. McConnell that I can tell, beyond being fellow members of the Sixers Sixth Man Fraternity -- was getting hyped:
T. McConnell the goat— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) February 13, 2018
The Sixers have just one more game before an eight-day All-Star layover -- a big one tomorrow at home against the Heat. With the Sixers surging and the Pistons now in the midst of the post-Blake Griffin trade hangover, losers of three straight, a final W to close out the five-game homestand would be enormous in setting Philly up for a pretty chill All-Star break, one in which their playoff standing is fairly secure and all that remains is scrapping for seeding. Not to mention two more games against the Knicks are still to come, in which T.J. will probably average 25 points, 11 boards, 15 assists, two buzzer-beater daggers and three noogies delivered to Frank Ntilikina. Can't wait.