Now that the Philadelphia 76ers resemble an actual NBA team, they’re in a position to give us actual NBA games, such as the spectacular back-and-forth affair between Philly and the New York Knicks on Monday afternoon.
The 76ers fell to the Knicks 119-113 in double-overtime, but Philadelphia very nearly seized a victory at Madison Square Garden in regulation. Only an isolation Carmelo Anthony 3-pointer saved New York from the ignoble home defeat:
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Philly returned the favor in the first overtime, however, as Robert Covington banked in a ridiculous triple to send the game to a second extra frame:
A quick aside: Did all of that ridiculous last-second shooting remind anyone else of one of the most famous buzzer-beaters in Knicks — and NBA — history: The famed Trent Tucker game winner with 0.1 seconds remaining, which gave rise to the "Trent Tucker Rule" disallowing any shot other than a lob or tip with fewer than three tenths of a seconds remaining?
But back to the present day. The Knicks got the win, yet there was cause for concern beyond just being taken to overtime by the league’s worst team. Anthony was awful for much of the afternoon, finishing with 19 points on 7-for-28 shooting. And as Anthony went, so went his team. In the second half, the New York offense ground to a halt and looked more like the Knicks of years past than the fun team led by Kristaps Porzingis that we’ve seen for most of this season.
Speaking of Porzingis, he left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return with what the Knicks called a sore right foot. It looks like he’ll be back soon, which is a good thing for New York. After Monday’s razor-thin victory, there were too many signs of the old Knicks, a team that should be long gone by now.
Anthony is one of the best basketball players on the planet, and he has plenty of experience putting a team on his back. But that’s the problem; the results haven’t been good when ‘Melo carries the burden, especially of late. His teams are always at risk of becoming reliant on isolation and one player’s scoring ability — namely, his. It happened on Monday. There’s no reason New York should have been in this position against the Sixers, yet here they were, led by ‘Melo. And as a once in a while indulgence, it can be forgiven. When it becomes a trend, then that’s a problem for the Knicks.
Often, Anthony holding the ball and firing a shot over the top of a defender can win the Knicks games. It certainly got them to overtime against Philly. But this team has made too much progress to regress so completely, so soon.