The New York Knicks lost a disappointing game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, blowing a lead in the second half, putting up just 20 points in the fourth quarter compared to 36 from their opposition at MSG.
On the day, the Knicks allowed 37 points to Joel Embiid, who recorded 23 free-throw makes on 27 attempts. James Harden contributed 29 points, 16 assists, and 10 rebounds, posting a triple-double to help overcome a lackluster New York team.
The Knicks’ leading scorers were Evan Fournier and RJ Barrett, who both contributed 24 points apiece, but their defense was abysmal in the process. With injuries beginning to log-jam the team, head coach Tom Thibodeau is facing a difficult ending to the season, but everyone is asking the same question, how did they plummet so quickly to mediocrity?
“When you make changes, sometimes that goes well for you and sometimes it doesn’t,’’ Doc Rivers said after the 76ers win, via Marc Berman of the NY Post. “Chemistry is a very fickle thing, as we all know. When you have it, you want it. Sometimes you don’t even know why you have it, but you know you want to try to protect it. And when you lose it, you don’t know why you’re losing it sometimes. But there’s still time.’’
Rivers is specifically hitting at the acquisitions of Fournie and Kemba Walker, both of whom have failed to mesh properly. Walker provides little to no defense and Fournier is also a liability, which is a significant problem considering the team built an identity around strong defensive play last season.
Injuries to point guard Derrick Rose and rookie shooting guard Quentin Grimes have only bogged down the team even further, and it might be too little too late for New York to make a last-second run and push for a postseason spot. The Knicks have lost five consecutive games and nine of their last 10.
They will take on the Philadelphia 76ers once again on March 2, but their schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers coming up next on their road trip. The Knicks currently host a 25–36 record, 15 games out of the first seed in the Eastern Conference and 4.5 games out of the 10th seed, held by the Atlanta Hawks.
Luckily, Grimes at least won’t have to undergo surgery on his injured patella, but he could easily miss the remainder of the season, which would be a significant blow to the team’s defensive contributions.
“As time goes on, we’ll update as we get more information as well,” Thibodeau said. “But we feel like the fact that there’s no surgery is good.”