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Apr 29, 2024 4:14 pm

Knicks home for Game 5 with chance to finish off 76ers

Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson sliced his way through the defense for 47 points, and the New York Knicks made creating offense difficult in the fourth quarter for the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

Brunson’s effort guided the Knicks to a 97-92 victory at Philadelphia and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

The result took place much to the delight of a vocal gathering of Knicks fans in the 76ers’ home building, resulting in Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid expressing some frustration about the crowd.

If the Knicks can make things difficult again for Embiid and the rest of the 76ers, they can close out the series at home Tuesday in Game 5.

The Knicks are hoping to avoid a return trip to Philadelphia on Thursday night after they took over Game 4 by rallying from a 12-point deficit in the first half. New York won the first two games at home by a combined 10 points as Brunson scored a total of 46 points on 16-of-55 shooting (29.1 percent).

After scoring 39 points in New York’s 11-point loss in Game 3, Brunson broke the Knicks’ playoff record held by Bernard King in a first-round game against Detroit in 1984. Brunson made 18 of 34 shots (52.9 percent) and is a much-improved 31 of 61 (50.8 percent) in the past two games.

“Somehow we just found a way, kept fighting, kept sticking together,” Brunson said after the
Knicks rallied from a double-digit deficit for the second time in the series. “We found a way.

“When it’s ugly and we can find a way to win like that, when we’re not playing perfect, it’s a plus for us, a plus for our confidence. We’re not done yet. We’ve got to continue to have that pump-up mentality and we’ve got to find a way to win another.”

The Knicks are attempting to reach the second round in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing it in nine straight postseasons from 1992-2000. Last season, they advanced out of the first round by winning Game 5 at Cleveland after winning Games 3 and 4 at home.

Philadelphia is on the verge of its second opening-round exit when making the playoffs in the Embiid era, and first since getting swept by the Boston Celtics in the bubble in the 2020 postseason.

Embiid is averaging 35.0 points in the first four games, his most in any playoff series, but faltered down the stretch Sunday. He scored 50 points in Philadelphia’s Game 3 win on Thursday but only one of his 27 points in Game 4 occurred in the fourth quarter when the center shot 0 of 5 and the Sixers were a dreadful 6 of 24 (25.0 percent) from the floor.

Philadelphia was within 90-89 with 5:04 remaining after a basket by Kelly Oubre Jr. but missed its last 11 shots. Embiid missed four shots in that span, including two shots that were blocked by Precious Achiuwa.

Achiuwa blocked a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 2:54 left and then Embiid’s layup attempt that would have moved the Sixers within 95-93 with 23.1 seconds to go.

“I love our fans but it was unfortunate. I’m not calling them out, but it is disappointing.” Embiid said of the resounding support for the Knicks at a 76ers home game.

Embiid was mostly defended by OG Anunoby while Achiuwa saw time defending him because Isaiah Hartenstein had five fouls.

Embiid’s rough fourth quarter occurred while the Knicks did just enough to win, hitting only 6 of 21 (28.6 percent) attempts from the field in the final 12 minutes.

The Sixers’ Tyrese Maxey shot 2 of 8 in the fourth quarter, when he scored five of his 23 points.

“They have three already, so we have to go up there and fight for our lives,” Maxey said. “Fight for our season. That’s what it is.”

–Field Level Media

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