Boy, that Philadelphia team really isn't any good. Missing third overall pick Jahlil Okafor to a team-imposed suspension, the Sixers seized their opportunity to launch terrible shots terribly while sometimes luring the Knicks into a similar mind state. New York, however, managed to play a complete enough game, led by their 2015 first-round draft selections. With a particularly impactful third quarter from both Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant, the Knicks managed to get garbage time started at the fourth quarter whistle against the worst team in the NBA.
Incredibly enough, the Knicks scored their first two points in fast break manner. Philadelphia's shot selection was so bad it made Mike Breen call JaKarr Sampson "Jakari," led by Robert Covington's best Kobe Bryant impression. A relatively unremarkable first quarter that saw the Knicks take a six point lead gave way to a more eventful second slate. Knicks reserves did a commendable job holding the lead for the starting unit. Lance Thomas, in particular, was able to display various facets of his skill set, even managing to draw one of his life-sustaining and-ones. Notably, Robin Lopez was the first starter to return in the second for Kevin Seraphin around the eight minute mark. The remainder of the second quarter was marked by disciplined offense from the Knicks, who stuck to the hot hand and fed Arron Afflalo in the post. The Knicks took a 15 point lead into the second half.
After a bizarre three-minute stretch to start the second half during which no player from either team scored a point, Kristaps Porzingis began to dominate. He snagged an offensive rebound and defensive rebound on the first two possessions of the half before showcasing some excellent passing, including a terrific lead pass to Jose Calderon for a layup. When your passes get Jose Calderon an easy layup, you're a classically trained sous chef. Porzingis also displayed his shot-blocking prowess, ultimately finishing with four. He has now cracked the NBA's top ten in that category.
The latter half of the third period proved to be a stage for the Knicks' other 2015 first round draft pick, as Jerian Grant carved up the under-talented and undisciplined Philadelphia defense for easy layups and nifty dimes. Grant probably had his best game since the early weeks of the season, finishing with 12 points and two assists, though he also turned the ball over four times. Grant's confidence during a time when the game was at least somewhat still contested was the ultimate takeaway.
Garbage time began in the fourth, as the Knicks had worked nearly a 25 point lead. Porzingis checked back in when the margin dipped below 20 to secure a double-double and throw down two dunks that symbolized his efficient, professional performance on the night.
It's rare for tall guys to look cool when they dunk - KP is one of those guys pic.twitter.com/JmXNecK2YX— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) December 3, 2015
Following those final flashes of competitive relevance, Derek Fisher relished the opportunity to rest his starters, allowing garbage time all-stars like Derrick Williams to go to work. Sasha Vujacic managed to travel without yet stepping foot on the court. Though the Knicks finished the game with a measly 12 point lead, they managed the seemingly impossible task of leading by double digits throughout the entire second half.
Of course, there are nits to pick. The Knicks turned the ball over 17 times to a bad defense. However, they also managed 10 fast break points, which is at least an improvement, as well as 52 points in the paint. In Okafor's absence, they led the rebound battle by eight. It was exactly the type of game the Knicks needed to play against an inferior opponent, thanks to what foiegrastyle referred to as "The Sixers Effect." Hopefully they can repeat the results against Brooklyn on Friday.