Saric scores 24 to lead 76ers past slumping Knicks
PHILADELPHIA (AP) T.J. McConnell doesn’t have the star power of Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons, but it was the undrafted reserve guard who received the loudest cheers while helping the streaking 76ers to another win.
McConnell had a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Dario Saric scored 24 points to pace all five starters in double figures, and Philadelphia won its fourth in a row, 108-92 over the slumping New York Knicks on Monday night.
The first-time All-Star Embiid scored 17 points and Simmons, a top Rookie of the Year candidate, chipped in 13, but it was McConnell’s night.
”I just think it’s the thing that endears him to all of us,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. ”You really respect him. He just plays so hard. He’s a wonderful lesson for so many basketball players for what perseverance and toughness can bring you to.”
McConnell said Embiid was egging him toward the triple-double, and the fans and 76ers bench reacted with crazed enthusiasm when he grabbed his 10th rebound with 1:05 remaining.
”Joel just wouldn’t let it go,” McConnell said. ”It was priceless. It speaks volumes about what kinds of guys we have. It was an awesome moment.”
J.J. Redick had 18 points and Robert Covington chipped in 13 for the 76ers, who won their 10th straight at home to remain in playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia, which never trailed, sits eighth in the Eastern Conference and moved three games ahead of ninth-place Detroit.
Michael Beasley scored 22 points to lead the Knicks, who lost their seventh straight. The Knicks were playing their third game without All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, who suffered a torn left ACL last Tuesday against Milwaukee.
”It’s going to be tough without K.P.,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. ”We have to be tougher, scrap harder.”
Courtney Lee had 18 points in his first game coming off the bench this season for the Knicks. Lee had started all 57 games this season, but Hornacek elected to go with 6-foot-8 Lance Thomas for defensive purposes to guard Simmons.
Emmanuel Mudiay had seven points in 19 minutes in his second game with the Knicks after being acquired from Denver. He debuted with 14 points and 10 rebounds in Sunday’s 121-113 loss at the Pacers.
The Knicks tied the game for the third and final time on Enes Kanter’s jumper with 3:57 left in the third quarter. Philadelphia took control from that point on.
The 76ers ended the period by scoring 13 of the final 19 points to take an 86-79 lead into the fourth, and then tallied the first eight points of the final quarter. Amir Johnson made the first of two free throws with 8:34 left to put Philadelphia ahead 94-79.
The Knicks scored just 13 points in the fourth period.
BELINELLI ON BOARD
The 76ers signed veteran 3-point specialist Marco Belinelli. The 31-year-old was averaging 11.4 points in 23.3 minutes per game with the Hawks, who bought him out to allow him to join a contending team.
Belinelli said he chose Philadelphia over Oklahoma City, Toronto, Milwaukee and Portland largely because he believes the 76ers are a team on the rise and wants to help their playoff push. He didn’t play on Monday.
Tim Hardaway Jr. missed all eight of his 3-point attempts, and Hornacek said the Knicks guard could look for other ways to contribute.
”Sometimes it’s not trying to score,” Hornacek said. ””Drive in there and kick it to somebody.”
Hardaway, who is shooting 30.4 percent from long distance this season, finished with nine points.
Knicks: Fell to 7-24 on the road. … New York was 6-for-24 from 3-point range.
76ers: Hall of Famer Allen Iverson rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell before the game. … Justin Anderson sprained his right ankle with 5:47 left in the second quarter and didn’t return. … Embiid was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week earlier Monday. He averaged 26.7 points, 15 rebounds and 2.3 blocks last week as the Sixers went 3-0.
Knicks: Host Washington on Wednesday night.
76ers: Cap a five-game homestand on Wednesday night against Miami.
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