PHILADELPHIA — Tobias Harris scored 30 points, Seth Curry had 20 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the New York Knicks 99-96 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight win.
The Sixers (28-12) maintained their grip atop the Eastern Conference standing,s in large part because Harris got hot in the final minutes. He scored seven straight points, including the tying bucket from 3-feet out and a go-ahead layup that made it 96-92. He then walked off the court yelling “I’m an All-Star!” Harris believed he should have joined teammates Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Atlanta.
Simmons had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Julius Randle had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, and RJ Barrett scored 17 points.
The Sixers, again playing without injured All-Star Joel Embiid, had won all three games since the All-Star break by at least 22 points. The Knicks made them work for this one.
The Sixers reserves rallied them in the fourth. Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz buried consecutive 3s that brought the Sixers within four and they stayed on the court when Simmons and Harris checked back into the game. Dwight Howard kept it a four-point game on a clean block on Randle’s drive — no restraint needed — and Simmons scored consecutive baskets that made it 89-87.
Curry gave the Sixers a 90-89 lead when he buried a 3 with 5:01 left.
Randle had to be held back by Knicks teammates after the buzzer following a call that went against him in the final seconds of a loss a night earlier to Brooklyn. The All-Star forward was furious when he was whistled for a travel and the play was not reviewed. Randle’s first season in New York has otherwise been fantastic. The crowd of about 3,000 fans was sprinkled with Knicks fans and there was a brief “MVP!” chant when he went to the free-throw line in the first half. The Sixers promptly turned up the artificial noise.
76ers coach Doc Rivers’ scouting report was more than just some film. His son, Knicks guard Austin Rivers, had told him that Randle had blossomed in New York.
“Austin just raves about what type of human being he is, how he’s a great passer and outworks everyone in the gym, how all his teammates love him,” Doc Rivers said. “Julius Randle didn’t have that narrative before. When a veteran player like Austin, who’s been in the league eight years, is saying that about a younger guy, it tells you something about Julius and what kind of guy he is.”
Randle nearly had a triple-double through three quarters and helped the Knicks pick up their offence in the second half. The Knicks led just 21-20 after a first quarter stuffed with missed shots in an ugly start to the game.
“The 90s are excited about this game,” 76ers President Daryl Morey tweeted.
Knicks: G Derrick Rose remained out because of COVID protocols. “He’s feeling a lot better,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
76ers: Embiid turned 27. ... Rivers had Thibodeau on his staff in Boston when the Celtics won the 2008 NBA title. The two have remained close through the years. “He is one of those guys whose love is basketball. Early on, I tried to get him out of the office. And then I realized that would make him unhappy,” Rivers said. “So let I him be.”
Rivers should have been coaching against his son, but Austin remained away from the team. Rivers lost his spot in New York’s rotation earlier this season when the Knicks acquired Rose and has been officially ruled out because of “personal reasons.”
Doc Rivers said he never talked about his son’s situation with Thibodeau.
“I don’t call coaches and suggest who they should play. I just don’t,” Rivers said. “If it’s your son or not, I stay away from that.”
Rivers also declined to comment on Austin’s personal and professional life.
Knicks: Host Orlando on Thursday.
76ers: Host the Bucks on Wednesday in the teams’ first meeting this season.
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Dan Gelston, The Associated Press