Friday, December 3, 2021

Kemba Walker leads Knicks past Ben Simmons-less 76ers

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Even during last season’s turnaround, the Knicks couldn’t solve the Sixers, going 0-3 with two close, last-minute losses.

But Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons wasn’t here Tuesday night for this TNT showdown at the Garden and Kemba Walker was.

The Knicks snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Sixers in a 112-99 romp to improve to 3-1. After a slow start, the Knicks bashed the Sixers by a 39-16 count in the second quarter and beat Philly for the first time since 2017.

In the first half, the rocking Garden chanted, “Where’s Ben Simmons?’’ deriding the Sixers for their disgruntled former All-Star guard being on indefinite leave. With five minutes left in the rout, the Simmons chant returned.

Walker, after sitting out the final 18 minutes of Sunday’s loss to Orlando, led five Knicks in double-figures with 19 points and Evan Fournier added 18.

Walker, who played for Boston last season, got hot from deep, draining 5 of 9 3-pointers and finished with 19 points and five assists in 27 minutes. After missing his first three shots of the game, the Bronx point guard hit seven of his next nine.

Kemba Walker, who scored a team-high 19 points, drives on Seth Curry during the Knicks' 112-99 victory over the 76ers.
Kemba Walker, who scored a team-high 19 points, drives on Seth Curry during the Knicks’ 112-99 victory over the 76ers.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

The Knicks have raised their 3-point attempt totals under pleas from coach Tom Thibodeau, and Tuesday they hit 15 of their first 23 attempts.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers said it’s more roster than strategy.

“That’s called having Kemba Walker and [Evan] Fournier on your team,’’ Rivers said. “They needed to score more. I think Thibs knew that.’’

The ugly Simmons soap opera may put the Knicks in play to pass Philly in the Eastern Conference standings this season. The 2-2 Sixers were the third seed in 2020-21.

Evan Fournier shoots a jumper during the Knicks' win over the 76ers.
Evan Fournier shoots a jumper during the Knicks’ win over the 76ers.
N.Y Post: Charles Wenzelberg

After a slow start in which they fell behind by six points early, the Knicks gathered themselves quickly and wound up punching the Sixers out in the second quarter. They led by as many as 27 points.

Backup power forward Obi Toppin started the deluge with his fast-break energy.

Walker reentered in the second period to drain jumper after jumper, Immanuel Quickley faked his former Kentucky backcourtmate Tyrese Maxey out of his gym shorts with a crossover and pull-up 3, and the Knicks outscored the Sixers by 23 in the second period.

In dominating on both ends, including a late 24-second violation that drew a shake of the fist from Thibodeau, the Knicks built a 62-42 halftime lead.

The Knicks bench scored 30 first-half points, with Derrick Rose leading the crew with nine points and finishing with 13.



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