Return of Porzingis, Embiid highlights Knicks-76ers matchup

NEW YORK — How’s this for a quandary?

The New York Knicks have had Kristaps Porzingis back from a sore knee for two games. The first was a 102-93 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday in which Porzingis scored a lowly one point on a miserable 0-of-11 shooting. That was followed by a 104-101 loss at the Detroit Pistons on Friday when Porzingis scored 29.

With their big man apparently healthy and ready to contribute, the Knicks will look for the right combination on Monday in a noon Christmas Day matchup with the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.

The Knicks, who have lost two of three after winning four straight, welcome a Philadelphia team that has lost five consecutive games and nine of 10, including Saturday’s 102-86 loss at the Toronto Raptors.

The 76ers allowed DeMar DeRozan to go off for 29 points in the loss.

Worse, the 76ers struggled on the boards against the Raptors, losing the battle, 43-41.

Even worse than that, Philadelphia committed 22 turnovers in the loss.

“We did a little bit better job with the offensive rebounding,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “I think the turnovers, especially in the first half, continue to hurt us. I leave mostly thinking that this is a really good team. I think they’ve lost one game at home (12-1), I think they’ve won 12 of their past 13 games (overall) and we felt every bit of that.”

Behind Enes Kanter’s game-high 16 rebounds, the Knicks dominated the Pistons on the glass in the three-point loss at Detroit.

But the team allowed seven Pistons to score in double figures, led by Tobias Harris’ 24.

“It was all downside. It was kind of that way all game, we couldn’t get downhill very much,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Jarrett (Jack) was able to do it some, but we only shot six free throws, so there wasn’t a lot of penetration. (We took) a lot of outside shots.”

Like New York, the 76ers are still working their talented big man into the fold again, as well.

Joel Embiid, who has missed five December games for Philadelphia, returned to score 14 points and grab eight rebounds against the Raptors, but that was not enough for the 76ers.

“I just think we should have been more aggressive at the start of the game,” 76ers star point guard Ben Simmons said. “Having Joel (Embiid) back, trying to get him the feel and to get him back into his rhythm at the start of the game, so that was a little tough adjusting back to that.”

With both young inside stars back in action, each team will try to dominate inside in the two teams’ first matchup of the season.