Knicks, 76ers look to bounce back

The Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks both experienced nights they would like to forget in their last game.

The difference for the Atlantic Division foes is those nights are rare for Philadelphia and a common occurrence for New York.

On Wednesday, both teams will be attempting to bounce back from lopsided results when they convene in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is 11-6 in 17 games since acquiring Jimmy Butler from Minnesota on Nov. 12 for Dario Saric and Robert Covington. The 76ers head into Wednesday in their first slump since the deal with three losses in their last four games.

Butler sat out with a strained groin and the Sixers dropped home games to Brooklyn and Indiana last week. He returned Sunday to score 19 points in 25 minutes when Philadelphia shook off a slow start and pulled away and recorded a 23-point win in Cleveland.

A night later in San Antonio, Butler missed 10 of 13 shots and held to six points in a 123-96 loss. His teammates were not much better as Joel Embiid was held to 13 and shot 6-of-17.

“You can talk about Xs and Os, you can talk about a bunch of stuff but to me, our spirit was down,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “We are poor in back-to-backs. That is a fact and we have to find a way to do (better).”

“I was trying too hard on offense and that affected my defensive efforts the entire game,” Butler said. “We’ve done that a lot this year as a whole. We just can’t let that happen.”

Especially with what the upcoming schedule looks like.

After Wednesday, the Sixers host Toronto Saturday, visit Boston for a Christmas Day game and then head to the West Coast for four games.

The Knicks held a seven-point lead at halftime but were dismantled by getting outscored 41-17 in the third quarter of a 128-110 home loss to the Phoenix Suns.

“The water was coming through the dam through so many holes,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “We didn’t show a lot of toughness during that run.”

The Knicks were without leading scorer Tim Hardaway Jr., who sat out with a sore right heel. Hardaway is questionable for Wednesday and if he misses his third game of the season, Courtney Lee could start as the Knicks enter with nine losses in their last 11 games since a three-game winning streak Nov 21.-25.

Whether it’s Hardaway or Lee in the backcourt, they will be alongside Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay scored 32 points Monday and is averaging 20 points in his last nine games starting with his 30-point showing in an overtime win against Milwaukee on Dec. 1.

“I think it’s enough now we know this kid is an NBA rotation player,” Fizdale said. “How far it goes from there is going to be what he does. You get to a third of the season and consistently putting in 20, 30 (points), six rebounds, six assists. First thing he had to prove to himself and to everyone is if he’s a legitimate NBA player. That’s proven now. The next step is can we get him to grow and develop and show the consistency of what a lead guard would do. He’s taken off and really gotten better every day.”

Philadelphia claimed the first meeting when Embiid scored 26 and the Sixers held the Knicks to 34.8 percent shooting in a 117-91 rout on Nov. 28.