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Knicks 109, 76ers 102: "Access Granted"

Maybe (probably) their final win of the season!

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With Kristaps Porzingis probably finished for the season, Knicks fans had approximately three reasons to watch Friday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers:

  1. Jerian Grant
  2. New York's rookie point guard
  3. Harvey Grant's son ... the one who isn't Jerami

Well for once head coach Kurt Rambis delivered, playing Grant 30 whole minutes, and the point guard responded with perhaps his finest game of the season, dropping 16 points (on 6-11 shooting), 5 rebounds and 6 assists, as the Knicks held of Philly, 109-102. It was the kind of game that inspires a host of "Grant" puns, my favorite of which came from Rice2012. Access Granted, indeed.

The Sixers started off the game mourning the resignation of general manager with a traditional Viking funeral, hitting the mead hard beforehand and drunkenly firing basketballs at a rim-shaped funeral pyre. They shot 32.6% from the field in the first half -- a percentage worthy of "The Process" -- yet only trailed New York by 3 at the break. These kinds of things that happen when 6 of Philly's 15 made field goals come from beyond the arc, while the Knicks hits only a single three.

From halftime on, it was essentially Grant and Robin Lopez vs. the world. The pair scored 27 of the team's 33 points in the third quarter, much of it on pick-and-roll action. The Knicks' backups stretched the league out the 19 early in the fourth quarter, before the jumpers stopped falling and the team went into full-on Knickstank mode. The Sixers damn near pulled off the miraculous comeback, but a clutch Grant jumper and a huge Lopez offensive rebound salted the game away.


Carmelo Anthony had the rumbly-tumblies in his belly before the game and toughed it out in the first half while dropping 20 on the Sixers before retiring to the locker room to drop something else entirely (POOP, I'M TALKING ABOUT DOOKIE, HERE! TURDS!).

Melo played a few minutes in the third, and sat out the entire fourth. I was watching the Philly broadcast, and even they kept compulsively pointing the camera at Melo on the bench during the Sixers' big comeback. At one point Melo stood up and the broadcasters snapped to attention: "That's it; Melo must be checking back into the game."

It must have been torture for Kurt Rambis to keep Melo out of this meaningless game. The exchange between player and coach went pretty much exactly as you'd expect:

Can you go back in?

I dunno, do you want me to?

I only want you to if you can ... but can you?

- Robin Lopez brushed off an early shooting slump -- both from the field and the free-throw line -- to tear apart Philly's front line like single-ply toilet paper (HAHAHA, POO! MELO POOED!). Sideshow Bob lead the team with 24 points and 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks. At certain points of the game New York's most effective offense consisted of a teammate bricking a quick jumper and RoLo tipping in the rebound. He beasted Philly for the rebound off a Jerian Grant free-throw miss with 32 seconds remaining -- real "man among boys" stuff. Later, he celebrated the victory in style:

- The synergy between Lopez and Grant in the third quarter was a wonder to behold. Lopez isn't your typical pick-and-roll diver -- you're not going to be tossing him crazy lobs the way Philly does with Nerlens Noel:

Grant is learning where to get Lopez the ball in those situations -- namely, farther from the basket, where he can either pop out for a 8-foot jumper or step in to do his own awkward RoLo dance of destruction:

Two very different plays. Both worth 2 points.

- Yet another oddly compelling game from Sasha Vujacic: 16 points on 6-7 shooting, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. I'm starting to get scared they'll bring him back.

- Cheers to Kyle O'Quinn (10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Derrick Williams (11 points, 9 rebounds), who helped New York maintain a healthy 59-46 rebounding advantage. It helps that Philly missed so many shots, of course, but let's try to stay positive here.

And so the Knicks have swept Philly in the season series, as they were supposed to. They'll wrap up 2015-16 against Toronto and Indiana ... two teams they aren't supposed to beat. Maybe they will! They probably won't, though.