PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tobias Harris scored the baskets that let the Philadelphia 76ers beat the New York Knicks for the 14th straight time and yelled, “I’m an All-Star!”
Fueled by a perceived snub, Harris has become a closer in the clutch and kept Philadelphia rolling without Joel Embiid.
Harris scored 30 points, Seth Curry had 20 and the 76ers beat the Knicks 99-96 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight win.
“That’s for sure what I said,” Harris said. “I’m just reaffirming that to myself. I know the fans know that. I just try and find motivation in different areas and that’s one of them.”
The Sixers (28-12) maintained their grip atop the Eastern Conference standings, in large part because Harris got hot in the final minutes. He scored seven straight points, including the tying bucket from 3-feet out and a go-ahead layup that made it 96-92.
He then yelled his All-Star proclamation loud enough for a sellout crowd of 3,071 fans to hear. Harris believed he should have joined teammates Ben Simmons and Embiid in Atlanta.
“I’m sure it fuels him,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “I think Tobias wants to win more, but I still think he thinks he should have been on the All-Star team. I agree with that. ”
Simmons had 16 points and 13 rebounds and has never lost — 13-0 — against the Knicks.
Julius Randle had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, and RJ Barrett scored 17 points.
The Sixers, again playing without injured All-Star Joel Embiid, had won all three games since the All-Star break by at least 22 points. The Knicks made them work for this one.
The Sixers reserves rallied them in the fourth. Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz buried consecutive 3s that brought the Sixers within four and they stayed on the court when Simmons and Harris checked back into the game. Dwight Howard kept it a four-point game on a clean block on Randle’s drive — no restraint needed — and Simmons scored consecutive baskets that made it 89-87.
Curry gave the Sixers a 90-89 lead when he buried a 3 with 5:01 left.
Randle had to be held back by Knicks teammates after the buzzer following a call that went against him in the final seconds of a loss a night earlier to Brooklyn. The All-Star forward was furious when he was whistled for a travel and the play was not reviewed. Randle’s first season in New York has otherwise been fantastic. The crowd was sprinkled with Knicks fans and there was a brief “MVP!” chant when he went to the free-throw line in the first half. The Sixers promptly turned up the artificial noise.
Randle nearly had a triple-double through three quarters and helped the Knicks pick up their offense over the next two quarters. The Knicks led just 21-20 after a first quarter stuffed with missed shots in an ugly start to the game.
“The 90s are excited about this game,” 76ers President Daryl Morey tweeted.
The Knicks collapsed in the fourth and scored just 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting.
“It shows us the work necessary to get over the hump,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Knicks: G Derrick Rose remained out because of COVID protocols. “He’s feeling a lot better,” Thibodeau said.
76ers: Embiid turned 27. … Rivers had Thibodeau on his staff in Boston when the Celtics won the 2008 NBA title. The two have remained close through the years. “He is one of those guys whose love is basketball. Early on, I tried to get him out of the office. And then I realized that would make him unhappy,” Rivers said. “So let I him be.”
Rivers should have been coaching against his son, but Austin remained away from the team. Rivers lost his spot in New York’s rotation earlier this season when the Knicks acquired Rose and has been officially ruled out because of “personal reasons.”
Doc Rivers said he never talked about his son’s situation with Thibodeau.
“I don’t call coaches and suggest who they should play. I just don’t,” Rivers said. “If it’s your son or not, I stay away from that.”
Rivers also declined to comment on Austin’s personal and professional life.
HE SAID IT
Howard had 11 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for the Sixers. The key to Howard becoming a super reserve this season?
“Probably the drinks he had in Puerto Rico, or wherever he was over the break,” Rivers said.
Knicks: Host Orlando on Thursday.
76ers: Host the Bucks on Wednesday in the teams’ first meeting this season.