GRADES: Sixers finish strong to beat Knicks

Ben Simmons, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Ben Simmons, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Sixers lock down defensively in the fourth as they make it six straight victories despite Joel Embiid being recently sidelined.

Philadelphia hosted the New York Knicks who were coming off a heated affair the night before against the Brooklyn Nets.

Now 2-0 since Joel Embiid’s injury, the Sixers have toppled two playoff contenders since their MVP candidate’s stead.

The game began slowly as neither team scored their 11th point until a Dwight Howard dunk with 3:46 remaining in the first pushed Philadelphia ahead 12-10. A spurt of quick baskets ended the quarter with New York leading 21-20.

Unlike the first, the second quarter was much more of a track meet. The two teams spent a fair amount of the quarter at the line, but the teams combined for 63 points as New York entered the half leading 56-48.

New York’s bigger names kept the pace with Philadelphia in the third quarter as Philadelphia came out scorching hot. Tobias Harris scored 11 points and Seth Curry poured in 12 more on seven combined three-pointers within the first five minutes of the quarter.

Despite the hot start, Philadelphia failed to keep the momentum and New York closed the quarter on an 11-4 run to enter the fourth leading 82-73.

The fourth quarter started fine for New York as Alec Burks buried a three-pointer with 9:08 remaining to extend New York’s lead to 87-80. As the quarter went on, Philadelphia tightened. Three steals and blocks each, New York shooting 5/19 in the quarter, and enough offense from Harris allowed Philadelphia to complete the comeback.

Philadelphia closed the game on a 19-7 run to cap-off the win at home pushing their record at Wells Fargo Center to 18-3 as 3,000 the Philadelphia faithful brought the feel of most sold-out stadiums clinching the 99-96 victory.

. PF. 76ers. TOBIAS HARRIS. A+

38 mins | 30 pts | 6 reb | 2 ast | 1 stl | 2 blk | 0 TO | 11-20 FG | 4-6 3PT| 4-4 FT | 4 PF | +1 |

Harris proves just how valuable he really is when Embiid misses games. Ben Simmons is the second superstar on the team, but Harris is perhaps the most valuable without Embiid. His offensive leadership is paramount and 30 points on efficient scoring when the team needs it is becoming the expectation from Harris.

76ers. BEN SIMMONS. A. . PG

34 mins | 16 pts | 13 reb | 7 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 3 TO | 8-14 FG | 0-0 3PT| 0-1 FT | 3 PF | +2 |

Simmons played the way he always plays. He made life uncomfortable for opponents, helping his teammates look good along the way. Simmons played well offensively as he performed nearly exactly the same as his career averages. Classic Simmons performance.

A. . SG. 76ers. SETH CURRY

32 mins | 20 pts | 3 reb | 2 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO | 7-14 FG | 4-7 3PT| 2-2 FT | 2 PF | +6 |

Curry is excellent. He pulled the trigger often tonight and without hesitation as he drained four three-pointers to keep the team close when New York could have run away with the game. Curry is a good player on most teams, crucial in Philadelphia.

76ers. DWIGHT HOWARD. A-. . C

28 mins | 11 pts | 12 reb | 0 ast | 0 stl | 3 blk | 1 TO | 4-9 FG | 0-1 3PT| 3-5 FT | 3 PF | +7 |

Howard has been replaced in the starting lineup when Embiid sits, but that is semantics. Howard finishes the game and has done so often with a double-double when Embiid is out. At this stage in his career, Howard’s maturity and willingness to play his role has allowed for a career renaissance within a role he fills quite well.

D+. . SF. 76ers. DANNY GREEN

22 mins | 3 pts | 1 reb | 2 ast | 4 stl | 1 blk | 3 TO | 1-10 FG | 1-7 3PT| 0-0 FT | 2 PF | +0 |

Praised Danny Green last game… not so much this one. He contributed four steals and a block. His defense was a positive more than anything. The problem is that you’re never going to get good marks on 1-10 shooting. It has been written about a lot, but Green’s a name to watch in the next week.

New York is playing hard and will look to get back to .500 when they host the Orlando Magic on Thursday. Philadelphia will host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow and then host the Sacramento Kings before heading to New York to take on these same Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

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