PHILADELPHIA (AP) Justin Anderson gave Carmelo Anthony fits by playing with the type of grit that Philadelphia fans love. Even Anthony complimented him.
Anderson also made the go-ahead basket with 24.3 seconds left and matched his career high with 19 points in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 105-102 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.
Acquired from Dallas last week in the deal that sent Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks, Anderson hit his first seven shots and forced Anthony into 5-for-18 shooting.
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”Any time you come into a city as passionate as Philadelphia and you come on the court, you want to please,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. ”That’s a pretty good introduction to our program.”
The fans’ response to Anderson built from polite applause to loud cheers as he produced offensively and defensively.
”These guys, they play so hard,” Anderson said. ”It’s something that’s admirable. You feel like you’re letting them down if you don’t play just as hard, if not harder.”
The stout, 6-foot-6 Anderson drew Anthony and was unfazed guarding one of the NBA’s top stars.
”I don’t back down from anyone,” he said.
The two received technicals in the third quarter when they got face to face and exchanged words.
”He was feeling good today,” Anthony said. ”I like that though. I’d rather somebody do that than not show any fight out there. He showed some fight. He battled, he competed and I respect that.”
Dario Saric had 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Robert Covington added 16 points. The 76ers snapped a three-game losing streak, winning their first game since announcing Wednesday that Joel Embiid was done for the season with a knee injury.
”Sometimes people say we don’t have the main players on our team,” said Saric, who also had 10 rebounds. ”I don’t like when people say, `You guys are finished without those guys.’ Because of that, I try to push my teammates to do a better job, and today we did that.”
Lance Thomas had a season-high 21 points for the Knicks. They began the day four games back of Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but also were behind Miami, Milwaukee and Charlotte.
”We don’t have room to spare at this point,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. ”This one hurts.”
Anderson gave the 76ers a 103-102 lead with 24.3 seconds left with a short jumper after a feed from Saric. Derrick Rose turned the ball over on New York’s next possession. The 76ers gave it right back, coming out of a timeout by turning the ball over on the inbounds play.
But Anthony’s go-ahead attempt from 15 feet rimmed out and Thomas couldn’t convert the follow.
Saric’s two free throws followed to make it 105-102 with three seconds left.
Courtney Lee’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer went off the back of the rim.
The three meetings between the teams this season have been decided by a total of five points.
Both Anthony and Anderson downplayed their heated third-quarter verbal exchange.
”We were just playing basketball,” Anderson said. ”If it was nowhere for a reason, if we were playing at a park, we would have just kept playing basketball. There was really nothing said that was any harm or anything. There really was nothing to it.”
Anthony apparently told Anderson not to be ”that guy.” Asked want he meant, Anthony said, ”He was just talking. I like him. I didn’t want him to be the guy I don’t like.”
Saric had yet another strong performance and is now averaging 11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds for the season. Along with Embiid, Saric is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year.
”How can it not be that the Rookie of the Year goes through Philadelphia?” Brown said.
Embiid’s season ended with him averaging 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds in 31 games.
Saric, for his part, isn’t focused on the award.
”I just try to push myself every game, try to win every game, try to support my teammates, try to get them to believe we can win the games liked today,” he said.
Knicks: Willy Hernangomez (ankle) didn’t play for the second straight game. . Maurice Ndour (ankle) also didn’t play. … Kristaps Porzingis had 18 points in his second game back after missing a pair of contests due to a sprained right ankle.
76ers: Philadelphia signed 6-10 forward Justin Harper to a 10-day contract prior to the game. Harper was averaging 16.2 points and 7 rebounds in 37 games with Los Angeles in the D-League. Harper went scoreless in five minutes. . Gerald Henderson (hip) sat out the first of two straight games.
Knicks: Host Golden State on Sunday.
76ers: Play second contest of three-game homestand Saturday night against Detroit.