Julius Randle
AP Photo/Chris Szagola

The New York Knicks surged to a 17-point third-quarter lead, but Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers never quit.

  • New York Knicks 104 (4-11)
  • Philadelphia 76ers 109 (9-5)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

They say that “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades but, if you’re a New York Knicks fan, you’re starting to lose patience for moral victories.

Despite the loss and the fact that the Knicks may not have the record to show it, they have been playing some good basketball over the past few games. Going into the northeast matchup, the 76ers certainly had the edge in talent and previous head-to-head contests, winning eight straight games against the orange and blue.

But credit these Knicks for coming into the game with some grit and swagger. Early on, perennial All-Star Joel Embiid proved to be an absolute load in the post. Head coach David Fizdale threw everything at the dominant center, tasking Taj Gibson, Mitchell Robinson, Bobby Portis, and Marcus Morris with the assignment of guarding the big man.

All of the aforementioned Knicks fell into foul trouble despite their efforts and Morris even went toe-to-toe in a little brush-up with Embiid during the second quarter. The fracas earned the Knicks forward a flagrant one foul. Morris’ toughness was certainly appreciated, but the nine-year man out of Kansas struggled to find his shot, finishing the first-half with four points on two of nine shooting from the field.

Dennis Smith Jr. led all Knicks with 10 points off the bench. Smith was impressive off the dribble and shot the ball with confidence. The 76ers were led by Embiid with 11 points and eight rebounds. Both Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons finished the first half with 10 points, Simmons added six assists and his first career three-pointer as well.

The Knicks came out swinging in the second half. The orange and blue started a 15-0 run with key baskets from Frank Ntilikina and Gibson. Excellent ball movement and tough-nosed defense were all hallmarks during the impressive stretch. But the Knicks could not keep the home team down for long. The 76ers finished the third on a 7-0 to cut the lead to five.

In the fourth quarter, it was the Mike Scott show. The sharpshooter hit three clutch three-pointers, including a back-breaker that came in transition after a missed Morris layup. The Knicks struggled to score in the fourth with the exception of isolation plays and a couple of lobs from Morris to Robinson. But unfortunately, a well-fought game ended in another loss.

The schedule will not ease up anytime soon. The Knicks will play the always dangerous—despite losing six-straight games—San Antonio Spurs Saturday night in the Garden. The Knicks’ next 10 games are all against playoff teams from last season.