NEW YORK -- Takeaways from the Sixers 101-95 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden...
1. James Ennis III has been up and down this year off the bench for the Sixers, but they wouldn’t have won without him scoring a season-high 20 points. Ennis, who had just two points in the first half, sparked the Sixers’ 31-17 third quarter advantage by scoring eight points and hitting on both three-pointers. Ennis was shooting with no hesitation and he was the main reason the Sixers got back in the game. He was later inserted with 5:46 left in the fourth quarter and soon afterwards was fouled on a three and made all three free throws. Leading 84-83, Ennis drew a foul driving to the basket and hit both free throws with 3:17 left. With the score tied at 87, Ennis fed Joel Embiid in the post, who made a three-point play. Ennis scored 10 fourth quarter points. For the game, he made all nine of his free throws and only took five shots from the field in a highly efficient effort.
2) Knicks coach David Fizdale didn’t waste any time using his coach’s challenge and it was a key move. Just one minute and 10 seconds into the game, Philadelphia native Marcus Morris was called for his second foul. Morris was called for fouling Tobias Harris on a driving layup. Fizdale challenged and won. That is an example how important Morris is to the Knicks. He opened the game guarding Ben Simmons and also helped the Knicks get off to a good start, by scoring six points in the first quarter as the Knicks led 31-18 after the first 12 minutes. Morris brings an element of toughness that the Knicks feed off.
3) While Joel Embiid still stays outside more than he probably should, when he is down on the block, he is doing a better job of recognizing the double team, passing out of it quicker. An example came in the second quarter, he received an entry pass, saw the Knicks converge on him and quickly passed out to Harris, who drained an 18-footer. Embiid also did a good job drawing fouls and making free throws. He scored 27 points, hitting 13 of 15 from the foul line.
4) Harris used his size all evening to go to the basket and shoot over smaller players. The 6-9 Harris demonstrated this with two third-quarter baskets as the Sixers were coming back. He hit a four-foot floater off a feed from Ben Simmons and later added a turnaround 10-footer in the lane. In the fourth quarter, Harris took it strong to the basket, scoring to increase the Sixers lead to 94-89 with 1:19 left. Harris appears more confident in posting up and shooting near the basket. He ended with 19 points, hitting 9 of 16 from the field.
5) With Al Horford getting the night off for rest on the first game of a back-to-back, and Kyle O’Quinn out with a left-calf strain, Sixers center Norvel Pelle made his NBA debut. The 6-10 Pelle has a long way to go offensively, but he can be a rim protector. He had four blocks, two in the third quarter. He also scored three points on four free throws.