NEW YORK – The 76ers held off the New York Knicks, 108-105, at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. Here are my main takeaways and best and worst awards:
- The Sixers need to keep Wilson Chandler more involved by calling his number. Right now, a lot of his involvement comes from hustle plays or moving without the ball. But getting him in a rhythm with some early touches could help them on nights when their standouts are struggling.
- On this night, the Sixers were fortunate the Knicks were undermanned. New York played without its two best players this season, Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring) and Enes Kanter (sick), and came within one missed three-pointer at the buzzer from forcing overtime.
- The victory enabled the Sixers to avoid losing three straight games for the first time since Jan. 31 of last season, Back then, they lost road games to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Milwaukee Bucks, and Brooklyn Nets.
- T.J. McConnell had a couple of bad turnovers against the Knicks. However, the Sixers have no option but to continue playing their backup point guard. His energy, grit and leadership qualities outweigh his miscues.
Best performance: This goes to Ben Simmons, who finished with 20 points, 22 rebounds, and nine assists. The 22-year-old became the youngest Sixer to record 20 points and 22 rebounds in a game.
Worst performance: I had to give this to Noah Vonleh. The Knicks power forward started at center in place of Kanter and struggled mightily. He missed all three of his shots and had more personal fouls (five) than points (three). Vonleh also graded out at a game-worst minus-32.
Best defensive performance: Joel Embiid gets this one. The Sixers' All-Star center had a game-high six blocked shots.
Worst statistic: This goes to both teams' combining to make just 2 of 12 three-pointers in the second quarter.