Knicks hand Sixers fifth straight loss
NEW YORK - The push the 76ers hoped to make in the second half of the season has yet to begin.
Facing the New York Knicks at sold-out Madison Square Garden, the Sixers fell behind in the second quarter Sunday night and rallied late but ultimately came up short, 99-93.
The loss dropped the Sixers' record to 22-32. They have lost five games in a row, matching their longest losing streak of the season. Jrue Holiday, who scored a career-high 35 points the last time the teams met, led the Sixers with 30 points. The Sixers have lost three straight since the all-star break.
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points to lead the Knicks (33-20).
The Sixers hoped to receive a boost with the return of starting power forward Thaddeus Young, who had missed six games with a strained left hamstring. Averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game, Young has been the Sixers' most consistent player this season. He finished the game with 11 points and led the Sixers with 10 rebounds in a little less than 36 minutes.
A 17-2 New York run in the second quarter put what had been a close game out of reach. The Sixers, as they have had to do so often, expended too much energy trying to get back into the game. The Knicks led by as many as 20 points in the third period.
"I think it was 15-2 for five minutes in the second quarter and 8-0 at the start of the third for two minutes," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of the Knicks runs. "So they had a seven-minute stretch where they outscored us 23-2. That was the game."
The game took a turn for the testy in the third quarter when Sixers center Spencer Hawes and Knicks big man Tyson Chandler had to be separated. Hawes was pushed in the back of his head by Anthony while fighting for a rebound and made a beeline for the Knicks star. Just as he bumped Anthony chest-to-chest, Chandler shoved Hawes, and those two were pulled apart by teammates. Anthony picked up a flagrant foul on the play.
"That kind of [stuff] gets me going, Hawes said of the shove. "It's part of basketball, part of the game. It gets like that sometimes."
"I didn't mean to hit him in the head," Anthony said. "I just reacted to the elbow I caught."
Hawes finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
"I thought he battled back and showed some mental toughness after that little scrap he had," Collins said.
The Atlantic Division-leading Knicks went into the game needing a victory after four consecutive defeats, including blowout losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Indiana Pacers.
Just as they had the night before in a 114-90 loss to Miami, the Sixers kept their opponents within reach and trailed by just 24-22 at the end of the first quarter. But things started to unravel in the second.
With Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire (22 points) leading the way, the Knicks opened a 52-40 lead by halftime.
Before the five-game losing streak, the Sixers won four of five games. The good news, which has become more difficult to locate as the season fades, is that one of the teams they defeated - Orlando - is their next opponent on Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center. However, five of the 76ers' next six games after that will be against probable playoff teams.
Contact John N. Mitchell @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.