PHILADELPHIA — Long Island’s Tobias Harris quietly fumed when he was not selected to the NBA All-Star Game after helping the Sixers to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Harris sure looked like he had a strong case Tuesday night. For one night, he took it out on his hometown team that was desperate for the offensive firepower that Harris supplied the Sixers.
Harris hit two key inside buckets down the stretch as the Knicks went cold, scoring only 14 points in the fourth quarter, and Philadelphia escaped with a defensive-oriented 99-96 victory at Wells Fargo Center.
This was only the season’s second game the arena has hosted fans during this pandemic season — 3,100 strong.
While there were a handful of Knicks jerseys in the stands, it was a Philly crowd that watched these new Knicks scrap and claw but fall short with just not any sustained shotmaking late in the fourth quarter.
Harris finished with 30 points on 11 of 20 shooting to pace the Sixers to their sixth straight win as the team continues to win despite the absence of MVP candidate Joel Embiid.
Julius Randle finished with 19 points on just 7 of 19 shooting. Alec Burks, a former Sixer, missed a shot in the final minute and committed a turnover. He finished with 19 points but shot 6 of 15.
Trailing by three, Immanuel Quickley bricked a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left. The Knicks got the rebound and Reggie Bullock fired up a 3-pointer but he was out of bounds.
RJ Barrett, who also missed clutch baskets late, finished with 17 points but shot just 7 of 17 as the Knicks fell to 20-21, losing the back-to-back to the Nets and Sixers.
The Knicks are hurting at point guard without Elfrid Payton and Derrick Rose. Quickley seemed bothered by a groin strain but added 13 points. Frank Ntilikina, as good a defender as he was again, went scoreless for the third straight game, going 0-for-4.
It was tied at 41-41 when the Knicks went on a 7-0 run to forge ahead 48-41.
Barrett hit Nerlens Noel on an alley-oop to start the run. Bullock, who turned 30 Tuesday, drained a 3-pointer off a Sixers turnover. Barrett capped the run after another Philly turnover. Burks led Barrett, who sprinted downcourt for an uncontested high-flying lefty jam.
The Knicks kept up the 56-48 lead at halftime as Randle, coming off his post-buzzer tantrum in Brooklyn, drained a 3-pointer on the game’s first possession and finished with 13 points and four assists by halftime.