Knicks Blow Another in Final 5 Minutes. Philly 125 NY 109

You look at the final score and you think the Knicks got torched by 16 points — but the Knicks were leading this game with 9 minutes left, and had full momentum. With 5 minutes left it was still razor close — a 3-pt game in Philly’s favor. But the Knicks just couldn’t do anything right down the stretch. Again. At Madison Square Garden on a Sunday afternoon. On National TV — CBS.

It resulted in the Knicks’ 5th straight loss. NY is now 25-36. They are 3-15 in their last 18. In a season that is sliding away fast. The ship is sinking.

The Knicks need a point guard who can weather them in the closing minutes or key stretches of games. Derrick Rose was that point guard last year, but he is still 1 or 2 weeks away after his ankle surgery that has kept him out for most of the year, and there are only 22 games left in the season.

Thibodeau’s Analysis

“We had to play small at the end,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards (as Mitchell Robinson and Jericho Sims had fouled out). “We gave up a crucial offensive rebound, that they turned into a 3. That was a problem.” (The 3 tied the game at 98 with 9:45 minutes left.)

“They’re active with their hands,” added Thibodeau. “and we have to have an awareness to that. There’s going to be pursuit from behind. They don’t fall off the court. They’re there. So you have to have a vision of, ‘are they pursing?” And then sometimes if a guy is sitting at the elbow, you have to give yourself up and give it up to the next guy. And that’s all part of understanding the intensity of the game and what’s happening out there.”

1. Barrett, Quickley, Fournier, Sims Terrific

The good news is that RJ Barrett — coming off his 46-point game — was terrific again, and he was joined by Immanuel Quickley, who had a great game as well.

Barrett had a hard time getting his shot to fall on drives for much of the afternoon against Joel Embiid — but was efficient in the clutch in the 4th, making drive after drive. And Immanuel Quickley was great all day — hitting his shot, penetrating, and playing with tremendous energy on both ends of the floor — against old Kentucky teammate Tyrese Maxey.

Evan Fournier also shot well in this game — 9-16 from the floor (6-11 from 3) for 24 points.

More good news for the Knicks was the stellar play of Jericho Sims — who bodied up against Joel Embiid all afternoon. The boxscore showed Sims getting 0 points on 1 shot taken in 18 minutes — but the 10 rebounds and 1 block told more of the story. Sims played with energy and athleticism and moxie on both ends of the court. He looked better than Mitchell Robinson did.

Knicks Pull Ahead

The Knicks were down double digits at the beginning of the 3rd but kept clawing back — getting closer and closer on the play of Barrett, Fournier, Quickley, Sims and team.

The Knicks started the 4th down 2 points. And then:

  • RJ Barrett drove the lane and fed Obi Toppin for a dunk to tie the game 91-91.
  • Barrett drove the lane and fed Quickley for a layup and foul with 11 minutes left to give the Knicks a 94-93 lead.
  • Barrett drove the lane again the next time down and made a short jumper to increase NY’s lead to 96-93.

It was looking good.

  • Quickley’s layup with 10 minutes left gave NY a 98-95 lead.
  • James Harden countered with a 3 and then free throws next time down, but
  • a clutch RJ Barrett drive tied the game at 100.

2. Knicks Die Down Stretch

And then Philly started to pull away — every time down Harden or Embiid were getting foul calls and making them.

  • A Quickley 3 kept the Knicks close.
  • Another RJ Barrett drive with 4:47 left kept the Knicks close at 112-107.

But in the final 5 minutes:

  • Julius Randle just missed a contested drive with the score 110-105,
  • Barrett hit a drive to make it 112-107, but
  • Barrett missed a jumper with the score 115-107,
  • Quickley’s drive was blocked by Embiid with the score 115-107,
  • Alec Burks missed a 3 with the score 115-107,
  • Quickley missed a 3 with the score 118-107 and 2 minutes left,

and that was it.

3. Free Throws

Joel Embiid and James Harden get a lot of fouls called in their favor, and this game was no exception. Embiid went 23-27 from the free throw line, and 7-18 from the floor for 37 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Both Mitchell Robinson and Jericho Sims fouled out of the game. When asked how hard it was to guard Embiid, Mitchell Robinson said, “He’s a big dude. He’s skilled like no other. For me I just have to be ready to play, ready to go.”

At the end, Randle and Obi Toppin were in together. Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel were available but did not play. After the game, a reporter asked Thibdeau of a report that Noel was dealing with plantar fasciitis. “We want (Noel) to get healthy,” answered Thibodeau. “That’s the main thing. And he’s working his way through that. He’s close. I want to get him through some practices first.”

James Harden went 10-10 from the free throw line, and 8-14 from the floor for 29 points, 10 rebounds, 16 assists, and 5 steals.

Philly was 39-44 from the free throw line; NY was 22 for 35.

For the Knicks, Julius Randle went 7-12 from the free throw line, and 4-13 from the floor for 16 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists.

RJ Barrett was 9-22 from the floor (0-3 from 3), 6-10 from the free throw line for 24 pts, 5 rebounds, 6 assists. Barrett was 4 of 6 from the floor in the 4th quarter.

“It was choppy; there wasn’t a flow to the game,” said Thibodeau afterwards. They shot a ton of free throws, and we shot a lot; so there was no flow to the game — so that hurts you some.”

4. CBS Coverage

CBS announcer Doris Burke — a former college basketball star — waxed poetic about Philly all evening — marketing their new makeup of James Harden added to Joel Embiid, and the rise of Tyrese Maxey.

Late in the 3rd, without looking at the boxscore you’d think Embiid had 40 points and Philly was up 30 — wherein the Knicks were down 7 and checking the boxscore — Embiid had 24 points and Evan Fournier had 21 points.

The Boxscore

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