NEW YORK --It was far from their best performance, but the 76ers escaped with a 90-87 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
The Sixers took an 89-87 lead when Tobias Harris was wide open on an inbounds pass from Ben Simmons and hit a three-pointer with 28.2 seconds left. How the Knicks left him so wide open at that point is a mystery. Then the Knicks, turned the ball over when Julias Randle was trapped on the sideline by Harris and Ben Simmons and lost the ball with 7.4 seconds left. On a night the Sixers struggled on offense, they were able to prevail because of the Knicks’ miscues.
Sixers swingman Furkan Korkmaz, coming off a career-high 24-point effort in Friday’s 100-89 win over the Chicago Bulls, should have received extra scrutiny. But he Knicks seemed to forget about him, leaving him wide open on several occasions. Korkmaz responded by hitting 2 of 3 three-pointers in the first half. One time no Knicks defender was within 10 feet of him when he drilled a three. Korkmaz also used his three-point ability to draw defenders up and then drive to the basket. In the first quarter he used the Knicks’ aggressiveness to make a driving 7-foot floater. In the third quarter Alonzo Trier was too late closing on Korkmaz and he not only hit a three but also the ensuring foul shot for a four-point play. On the next series, Trier played him close and Korkmaz beat him off the dribble and scored on a 5-foot floater. In the fourth quarter the Knicks fell asleep and Korkmaz scored on an inbounds pass from Simmons.
The 76ers were effective in limiting the New York transition game. When the Knicks were forced into playing a half-court offense, they struggled. In the first half, the Sixers outscored the Knicks, 12-3, in fast-break points and extended that difference to 18-3 through three quarters and finished with a 20-5 advantage.
The Knicks’ way of defending the pick-and-roll, led to a lot of open shots and mismatches for the Sixers. Instead of trying to fight around the pick and stay on their man, the Knicks switched defenders. That led Simmons to get many open drives. Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock were the main defenders on Simmons. Morris especially is a solid defender, but when there was a switch, Simmons had a mismatch off the roll and often drove successfully to the basket. In the first half, he had seven field goals and the farthest one was a 5-foot hook.