Tom Thibodeau

The New York Knicks welcomed back both Mitchell Robinson and Immanuel Quickley against the Philadelphia 76ers in a game with classic vibes.

After a gritty win over the Orlando Magic on Thursday, fueled by another Julius Randle triple-double, the New York Knicks geared up for a rivalry game.

The team hosted the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night and got some good news before tip-off. Though Derrick Rose remained out due to health protocols, Immanuel Quickley was back to add depth at the point. Even better, Mitchell Robinson was back after missing 15 games with a broken hand.

Furthermore, the Knicks sought to avenge a heartbreaking loss at Philly’s hands on Mar. 16. The team went cold at the worst time in a 99-96 loss in the City of Brotherly Love.

But now, it was New York’s turn. Keep your boring Philly cheesesteaks and try the elite chopped cheese for once. Rocky will always stand in Raging Bull‘s shadow. Oh, and both Gritty and the Philly Phanatic are annoying.

The tough Sixers faced a motivated Knicks team on Sunday, and what a game it was indeed.


1st quarter: Rough start

All in all, this was an ugly quarter for the New York Knicks. Defense was awful to the point where the Sixers went on a 15-0 run, though the Knicks closed the gap and only trailed 23-15 at halftime.

Even so, the Knicks only made a third of their shot attempts and committed four turnovers in the first quarter. Even with a strong-ish finish, the team needed to raise its overall effort.



Halftime report: Don’t call it a comeback

The Philadelphia 76ers were up by as many as 14 at one point in the second, and it seemed the game would soon be out of reach.

Cue the New York Knicks closing the half on an unbelievable 13-0 run, and they only trailed 43-42 at halftime. Best of all, it was a complete team effort.

Quickley hit a pair of timely threes. RJ Barrett looked as confident as ever. Nerlens Noel and Reggie Bullock played excellent defense. Randle was quiet, but still led the team with 10 points.

Simply put, the stage was set for a chippy second half.



3rd quarter: The defensive clinic

Back in the ’90s, this game would be discussed as a possible future classic. The score was tied 64-64 after three, with the New York Knicks bending without breaking. The same could be said for the Philadelphia 76ers, who were equally streaky in the quarter.

The good news is the Knicks proved more than capable of keeping up with the top team in the Eastern Conference. The bad news was the fourth quarter left little time for further mistakes.



4th quarter: To overtime we go

The great defense continued in the fourth quarter, and Danny Green’s floater with 19.1 seconds remaining definitely had some dagger vibes.

But the New York Knicks refused to back down and stayed focused. The Sixers also made a mistake by not using a foul to give, and Julius Randle’s corner three tied the game 88-88 with 5.1 seconds remaining. A subsequent Philly turnover almost led to his hitting the game-winning three, but to no avail.

Onto overtime.



Overtime: Another heartbreaker

Unfortunately for the New York Knicks, fate did not smile on them as they lost to Philadelphia for the 15th consecutive time. A clutch layup from Barrett and key three from Bullock had the Knicks up 100-96 at one point.

Sadly, Tobias Harris answered with a three and was on the receiving end of a controversial foul call with 5.1 seconds remaining. He sunk his free throws and Randle’s last-ditch attempt went in and out. The Sixers won 101-100 and maintained the top spot in the East.

The loss aside, this was a moral victory for the New York Knicks. They proved they can keep up with a tough Doc Rivers-coached defensive team, even if the Sixers were without Joel Embiid.

Even so, this was still a stinging loss.



Player of the game: Alec Burks

Burks once again proved a capable sixth man with 20 points off the bench, 16 of which were in the fourth quarter and overtime. When the shots weren’t falling for his teammates, he stayed confident with the ball in his hands and kept the Knicks in the game.


Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.