NEW YORK – The clocks were turned forward one hour Sunday morning before the New York Knicks faced the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
When they stepped on the floor, they played as if they were still asleep. And it didn't have anything to do with daylight savings time.
Philadelphia defeated New York 106-94.
Coming into the game, the first-place 76ers (24-17) were riding a two-game winning streak with wins over Boston and Utah. The Knicks, however, were coming back home after losing their four previous games, all on the road.
With center Tyson Chandler back in the starting lineup after missing the last two games (hamstring and left wrist), New York was hoping his presence, especially on the defensive side, would help bring the end to the losing streak.
With Carmelo Anthony coming out with a purpose (10 points), the Knicks took an early first-period lead (21-14) before Philadelphia outscored them 8-3 to end the period trailing only by two (24-22). Evan Turner (seven points) and Louis Williams (coming off the bench to add another seven) helped close the gap.
The teams went back and forth in the second period with no lead getting bigger than six (Philly 49-43) after Thaddeus Young, adding additional bench help, scores four straight points. He finished the period with 10 points. Meanwhile, Louis led the team with 13.
Anthony, Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields scored the Knicks’ last six points in the final 1:08 as they ended the first half trailing by two (51-49). Then New York went into its sleepwalking mode in the third period.
It didn’t start out that way as New York only trailed by three (65-62) after a Lin layup. But then the Sixers dominated the rest of the period and showed why they have scored more points than any other team in that period this season. Philadelphia outscored the Knicks 24-11 over the rest of the period (38 points for the period) to take a 16-point lead (89-73) entering the final stanza. Williams continued his hot shooting, scoring 14 points.
With both Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire benched in the last period, head coach Mike D’Antoni was hoping the second unit would spark a comeback.
It wouldn’t happen as Philadelphia continued to hammer the lifeless Knicks. With Young, Williams and Turner outscoring New York 9-4 to begin the final quarter, the Sixers upped their lead to 21 (98-77). The Knicks got as close as 10 points (104-94) with a little more than one minute left but the game had long been decided.
The defense that had been a big part of the Knicks during the Lin-Sanity run not only allowed Philadelphia to shoot 51 percent from the floor but an unacceptable 57 percent from 3-point land.
“Collectively we didn’t play well. Collectively our spirit isn’t good. Collectively, our defense wasn’t good. Collectively we just didn’t do what we needed to do. We have to solve that,” said D’Antoni.