Knicks no match for Tobias Harris, fade late in loss to 76ers

PHILADELPHIA — Long Island’s Tobias Harris quietly fumed when he was not selected to the NBA All-Star Game after helping the Sixers to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Harris sure

PHILADELPHIA — Long Island’s Tobias Harris quietly fumed when he was not selected to the NBA All-Star Game after helping the Sixers to the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Harris sure looked like he had a strong case Tuesday night. For one night, he took it out on his hometown team that was desperate for the offensive firepower that Harris supplied the Sixers.

Harris hit two key inside buckets down the stretch to finish with 30 points as the Knicks went cold, scoring only 14 points in the fourth quarter, and Philadelphia escaped with a defensive-oriented 99-96 victory at Wells Fargo Center.

The Knicks point-guard issues are rearing their ugly head as Derrick Rose (health and safety protocols) and Elfrid Payton (hamstring) continue to be out and Austin Rivers (paternity leave) may be done with the club.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is finding it difficult sledding deciding whom to tab in the fourth quarter between rookie Immanuel Quickley, who looked limited with a balky ankle, and Frank Ntilikina, who has gone stone cold offensively.

Tobias Harris, who scored 30 points, drives on Nerlens Noel during the Knicks’ 99-96 loss to the 76ers.
NBAE via Getty Images

Starting his second straight game, Quickley missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 11 seconds left that would have tied the score. He finished with 13 points but was just 1 of 5 from 3-point land.

Ntilikina, as good a defender as he was again, went scoreless for the third straight game, going 0-for-4. He’s 0-for-15 in the last three games.

“We’re shorthanded — that’s part of it,’’ Thibodeau said.

Though they battled tough against the East’s two best teams in the Nets and Sixers on back-to-back nights, the losses dropped the eight-place Knicks’ record to 20-21. The Knicks blew a nine-point lead after three quarters with their anemic final period.

“Taking a look at this game and the Brooklyn game, there’s a lot of good things to take from it,’’ Thibodeau said. “Obviously we fell short in the end. It shows us the work necessary to get over the hump. But the last two games you’re on the road against a Brooklyn and Philadelphia and it comes down to the last possession.’’

This was only the season’s second game the arena has hosted fans during this pandemic season — 3,100 strong.

While there were a handful of Knicks jerseys in the stands, it was a Philly crowd that watched these new Knicks scrap and claw but fall short with no sustained offensive flow down the stretch.

After Quickley missed the 3, the Knicks got the offensive rebound but Reggie Bullock stepped on the sideline as he shot, ending their bid.

“Quick, we’ve seen him shoot those pretty consistently,’’ Thibodeau said. “If he gets a good look you don’t want him hesitating, I can tell you that.’’

Quickley, who injured his ankle in the first quarter, said he was “not happy I missed it, wish I could get it back.’’

“I’m glad I had the confidence to take the shot — a lot of people wouldn’t have taken that shot,’’ Quickley said.

Quickley missed the entire second quarter getting treatment in the locker room on his ankle.

“My ankle’s hurting a little but I had to tough it out,’’ he said.

Ntilikina’s confounding slump since the All-Star break has Thibodeau trying to highlight his positives.

“His defense is his strength,’’ Thibodeau said. “And we need it and he can guard multiple positions. He can play well without shooting well. For us, we just want him taking the right shots. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”

Harris, the Long Island native, shot 11 of 20 from the field and paced the Sixers to their sixth straight victory as the team continues to win despite the absence of MVP candidate Joel Embiid.

“We played the top two teams in the East and it was a dogfight,’’ said RJ Barrett, who finished with 17 points but shot just 7 of 17 and missed clutch shots late.

Julius Randle finished with 19 points on just 7 of 19 shooting. Alec Burks, a former Sixer, missed a shot in the final minute and committed a turnover. He finished with 19 points but shot 6 of 15.

“I don’t believe in moral victories,” Randle said. “It’s a win or a loss.’’

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman

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