NEW YORK — Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 118-110 victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
— The Sixers still need to play better if they expect to win a playoff series. This game was supposed to be easy for them. However, they trailed the struggling Knicks by 13 points early in the third quarter and needed a late 20-5 run to win. While they showed fight, this game shouldn’t have been close.
— Joel Embiid has some discomfort in his left hand that led to his having it taped for the morning shootaround and early part of the game. However, the injury didn’t hinder him. He posted a game-high 29 points to go with 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
— Remember the Robert Covington who had a hot hand against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday? He made an appearance against the Knicks. The small forward scored 15 points by hitting 5 of 7 three-pointers.
— For someone playing a new position, Ben Simmons sure doesn’t look like a novice. He recorded his eighth triple-double, finishing with 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. It’s the second-most triple-doubles in NBA history by a rookie. Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson had 26 in 1960-61 with the Cincinnati Royals.
— The Sixers had to overcome their free-throw shooting. They made only 61.8 percent (21 of 34) of their foul shots. The Sixers went 12 for 24 from the line over the last three quarters.
‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards
— Best performance: Even though Embiid had a game-high 29 points, I gave this to Dario Saric. The Sixers power forward scored 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting — including 4 of 8 three-pointers. He also had 12 rebounds. Saric had six points on 2-for-3 shooting — all three-point attempts — and six rebounds in the fourth quarter.
— Worst performance: This was easy. It goes to Isaiah Hicks. The Knicks reserve had one point and missed both of his shots.
— Best defensive performance: Knicks reserve Kyle O’Quinn gets this for having three steals and one block.
— Worst statistic: This goes to the Sixers’ foul shooting..
— Best statistic: I had to give this to Covington for shooting 71.4 percent on three-pointers.
— Worst of the worst: The Sixers defense in the first three quarters. The Knicks had 91 points and were shooting 56.7 percent from the floor entering the final quarter.