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Sixers light up the Knicks again as Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler show the way

Despite the Sixers' defensive struggles, they pulled out the 131-109 win behind Joel Embiid's 24 points and Jimmy Butler's 20.

Sixers' Jimmy Butler drives on Knicks' Frank Ntilikina during the 2nd quarter at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Wednesday, December 19, 2018.   STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Sixers' Jimmy Butler drives on Knicks' Frank Ntilikina during the 2nd quarter at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Wednesday, December 19, 2018. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff PhotographerRead moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

The Knicks were hoping for a revenge game, but the 76ers were having none of it at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.

Behind a 24-point performance from Joel Embiid, 20 points from Jimmy Butler, and a triple-double from Ben Simmons, the Sixers improved to 21-12 this season with a 131-109 win and sent the Knicks packing.

In their last meeting, on Nov. 28, the Sixers jumped out to a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter and continued to pile on the points in the second half of a 117-91 win.

The Knicks put up more of a fight on Wednesday, but that’s as much as they could muster. After coming back from a 15-point, first-half deficit, the Knicks cut the Sixers lead to just three points in the third quarter. Instead of panicking, the Sixers put their foot on the gas pedal.

Simmons, who finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, said he knew the second half was going to be different because he went into halftime angry about his first-half performance.

“I came out with a different mindset and was kind of [ticked] off,” he said. “Just the way I was performing I don’t think I played well at all tonight. If you look at the numbers, obviously it’s a triple-double but in my head I didn’t play well at all.”

His anger showed. Early in the third quarter he was issued a technical foul after barking at the officials. After that, the Sixers took off.

An emphatic Embiid dunk was followed by steal-and-dunk sequence from Simmons that ignited the rest of the team, including T.J. McConnell.

Sometimes it’s not the guy with the most impressive stat-line of the night who makes the biggest impact, and on Wednesday night that seemed the case with McConnell.

Following the Embiid-Simmons dunk show, McConnell picked up one of the full-court defensive steals that have endeared him to Sixers fans.

“I haven’t even looked down at his stat line and I’ll be surprised when I do," coach Brett Brown said after the game. “He was excellent tonight. He’s a pain for everybody and he’s ours.”

McConnell finished the night with seven points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Although that possession ended with Mike Muscala missing a three-point attempt, it didn’t stop the rhythm the Sixers had set in motion. They continued to score at will and soon gained a double-digit advantage that they would hold for the rest of the game, never letting the Knicks back within striking distance.

Muscala later redeemed himself, hitting two threes and finishing the night with nine points off the bench on a night when every player contributed to the final score for the Sixers.

For two of the Sixers, their scoring night was notable for other reasons. JJ Redick scored his 10,000th career point with 8 minutes, 46 seconds left in the second quarter and finished the night with 14 points. Redick’s backup, rookie Landry Shamet, posted a career-high 17 points.

“If you had told me 10 years ago, as a third-year guy, struggling to get into the rotation, that I’d score 10,000 points I’d think you were crazy," Redick said. “It’s a cool thing for me.”

The Knicks were led by Tim Hardaway Jr. with 27 points and rookie Kevin Knox, who had 21 points.

The Sixers' next two games come against the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors at home on Saturday before they head to Boston to face the Celtics on Christmas Day.