It wasn’t nearly as easy as it should have been, but the Sixers will take it.
The Sixers almost blew a big lead Sunday afternoon in New York, then recovered to beat the Knicks, 108-105, and snap a two-game losing streak. Emmanuel Mudiay missed a potential game-tying three-point attempt on the Knicks' final possession.
Ben Simmons had a huge game, with 20 points, a career-high 22 rebounds and nine assists. He's the first Sixer to post those numbers since Charles Barkley on March 20, 1987, per Basketball-Reference.
Joel Embiid had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Sixers, who move to 28-16 with the win.
• The Sixers would be disappointed that they let the Knicks cut a lead once as large as 24 points down to one in the third quarter, and then back to two in the fourth period after it appeared the game was in hand.
With all due respect to Luke Kornet (23 points), Mario Hezonja and company, the Knicks don’t have the personnel to pose any problems for the Sixers, at least on paper.
If Embiid wasn’t around, perhaps the Knicks would’ve handed the Sixers a third straight disappointing loss.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, Embiid, a game-time decision with right ankle soreness, did play.
He had a big impact on both ends of the court.
Jo just out here terrorizing both ends of the floor.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 13, 2019
Demonstrating some defense to offense with a block and a slam the other way. Sixers up, 46-32. pic.twitter.com/HXrn7CscRw
Embiid blocked six shots and also took a charge on Lance Thomas in the second quarter. Embiid had a laugh after earning the call, seeming to acknowledge how unusual it is for a 7-footer known for his shot-blocking prowess to take a charge on a 6-foot-8 forward.
• Though he’s taken more lately, every Simmons jumper is still an event.
He swished a baseline fadeaway in the second quarter.
Your regularly scheduled Ben & Jo show.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 13, 2019
Embiid finds a streaking Simmons for the jam. Sixers up, 63-42. pic.twitter.com/g1KmOBhvVu
As usual, though, dunks were a more prominent feature of Simmons’ game.
He darted to the rim when Frank Ntilikina abandoned him to double-team Embiid and capitalized on the Knicks’ belated defensive rotation.
Oh that's nice, Simmons.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 13, 2019
Ben with the jumper to put the Sixers up, 52-34. pic.twitter.com/B3w3agz5I7
Simmons continues to excel in the post, especially against opponents like the Knicks who simply don’t have the defenders to physically handle him. He entered Sunday’s game shooting 48.5 percent on post-up possessions (33 of 68). For comparison, he shot 30 percent (21 for 70) on post-ups last season.
• After two poor defensive efforts, the Sixers were better on that end of the floor in New York. That’s not to say they were good; the Knicks, who have the worst field goal percentage in the NBA, missed a number of open looks, Embiid cleaned up a few perimeter mistakes, and the Sixers still allowed the Knicks to score 32 points in the third quarter.
But it didn’t take much to improve on their recent dismal defensive performances, and the Sixers ultimately did that vs. the Knicks.
Jonah Bolden didn’t score, but he was impressive on defense alongside Embiid in the frontcourt during his fourth-quarter stint.
It’s worth noting that Furkan Korkmaz, who has often been exploited defensively, played just nine minutes and was scoreless, with a team-worst minus-seven. Korkmaz played four first-half minutes in Friday’s loss vs. the Hawks.
• Like Embiid, Jimmy Butler was a game-time decision. He played despite a rib contusion, posting 16 points, 10 in the second half
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