<![CDATA[By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Philadelphia 105, New York 102 – Box Score
In a true clash of titans, the first two meetings between the Knicks and Sixers this season both ended in buzzer-beater victories. TJ McConnell hit a dagger in Carmelo Anthony’s face back in January, before Melo got his revenge in Philly last week. Friday night’s rubber match also came down to the wire, but this time, the Knicks’ shots in the closing moments came up dry.
It all started with the Sixers down one, and Dario Saric showing incredible patience under the hoop before finding Justin Anderson with a wrap-around pass for a short jumper in the lane to put Philadelphia in front. Predictably, the Knicks went to Iso-ball with Melo, but unlike last Saturday, the reluctant All-Star’s shot from the left wing was off the mark. Saric would pull down the rebound and hit both free throws on the other end to put the Sixers up three. Courtney’s Lee potential game-tying three at the buzzer drew iron and the Sixers sent the ever-populous Knicks fans at the Wells Fargo Center home unhappy.
Indicative of his presence in the deciding moments of the game, Dario Saric was tremendous throughout the game for the home team. The rookie finished with 21 points on 7-14 shooting, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. It sure is fun watching him grab a rebound and immediately head up court to lead the fast break. The late pass to Anderson on the go-ahead bucket was nifty, but Saric’s most impressive pass came a little earlier when he somehow saw Jahlil Okafor out of the corner of his eye and fed him with a behind-the-back pass under the hoop.
I can’t wait to see what Dario’s game looks like next year after he has another full offseason to work on his shot from NBA range.
While Sixers fans (rightfully) continue to bemoan the Nerlens Noel deal, we did get our first sign that the return wasn’t completely terrible. Justin Anderson had his first productive game as a Sixer, scoring 19 points on 8-12 shooting, hitting 3-6 from three, and getting under Carmelo Anthony’s skin on the defensive end of the court (the pair were even charged for a double technical at one point). Anderson attacked the offensive glass vigorously for a couple putback dunks, and even logged a short stint as a quasi-center. If he can be active on the boards, pull hard-nosed defense, and hit just enough threes, he’ll stick around.
The win broke a 3-game losing streak for Philadelphia and puts them in a position where just 2 games separate them from falling (rising?) all the way to the 10th spot in the lottery. Still, if a victory is coming on the back of Saric playing out of his mind and guys like Anderson, Robert Covington, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot playing tough defense on a premiere scorer like Carmelo Anthony, you take the W, lottery odds or not. ]]>