Knicks pull off biggest comeback of season, beat 76ers – The Denver Post
Evan Fournier had an unexpected chance and raced with it.
With RJ Barrett a late scratch due to non-COVID illness, Fournier, normally out of rotation, was the backup goaltender and sent a reminder on why he broke the franchise record for 3-pointers. barely a year ago.
Fournier’s 17 points — including 5 for 8 from beyond the arc — marked his season high, as the Knicks’ defense stifled Philadelphia in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 108-97 victory at MSG.
The Knicks (28-25) recovered from a very early 21-point deficit, with Joel Embiid predictably going a handful while scoring 31 points — including 18 from the foul line.
But the Sixers (32-18) spat in the fourth quarter and the Knicks beat one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference for the fourth time in the past two weeks (they also beat the Cavs, Heat and Celtics) .
Julius Randle scored 24 points and Jalen Brunson added 21. Fournier, a candidate to be moved ahead of this week’s trade deadline, received a standing ovation from the Garden crowd after committing a foul with 1:39 to do in the fourth quarter. His 24 minutes were his best since October.
Barrett’s absence was an interesting moment. In three games over the past week, he was benched in critical time and criticized by MSG Network analyst Clyde Frazier for his shoddy defense.
“Barrett has the distinction of being the Knicks’ worst defenseman,” Frazier said on the Saturday Night Show. “They have all these stats now and he’s the worst guy.”
Thibodeau predictably supported his 22-year-old wing. But then his team put up one of their best defensive efforts.
“Quite honestly, I look at those numbers and they don’t make sense to me,” the coach said of Barrett’s defensive rating. “I haven’t seen a good scoring system defensively yet and I think I’ve studied it well. So I don’t buy into it as some people treat it as gospel.
Durable throughout his career, Barrett has missed seven of the last 20 games. The Knicks didn’t react well at the start on Sunday, falling to a 21-point hole in less than 10 minutes. But they quickly went on a 17-0 run and were down just 2 at halftime.
Earlier in the day, the Atlantic Division was rocked by news that Kyrie Irving was sent to the Mavericks for Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, a first-round pick and two runners-up.
Although Irving is leaving town and the division, the Knicks have more reason than ever to put down roots against the point guard. They own the Mavericks’ first-round pick this year — a product of the trade of Kristaps Porzingis in 2019 — and theoretically adding Irving will make things worse.
It’s a flimsy theory because Irving is less reliable than milk on the morning of his expiration date, but his talent is certainly capable of propelling the Mavericks to a higher spot in the standings.
Thibodeau declined to comment on the trade.
“That would be a next question,” the coach said.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers also avoided “news of the day” as the reporter framed the trade question.
“I’m just glad Biden shot the spy balloon down,” Rivers replied.