The premiere matchup of the night was the offense of Carmelo Anthony against the defense of Andre Iguodala. Sixers coach Doug Collins may admit as much, proven by his minute-for-minute matching of his star forward for the Knicks star forward.
The result was a back and forth battle between the two that saw Carmelo win the first and third quarters with a 9-16 success rate from the field, and Iguodala win the second and the fourth quarters, shutting Anthony out on field goals, 0-8.
Anthony did end up scoring 27 points to lead all scorers in the game, but needed those 24 field goal attempts to do it as well as eight made free throws, all in the second half. Anthony attempted 18 shots tagged 'jumpers' by Synergy Sports, nine of which were isolation plays.
It wasn't just Carmelo. The two teams bumped and slogged each other forcing a bunch of isolation sets, turnovers, and missed shots.
The flow of the game couldn't get rolling properly. The Knicks defense never let Philadelphia get into a ball movement habit, and the Sixers had only 10 assists for the night against 14 turnovers. Their shooting was poor as well, hitting on only 39.5 percent of their shots.
The Knicks on the offensive end were a smidge more effective in the assist category (13) and had plenty of opportunities to cash more in as the Sixers doubled Carmelo early on and Anthony and the rest of the Knicks did a nice job of moving the ball from side to side, even if their paltry 41 percent field goal percentage didn't allow for more evidence of the rotation.
The Knicks somehow overcame 21 turnovers through all of that ball sharing, though it did benefit Knicks rookie Josh Harrellson, who had 13 points in 23 minutes off the bench. Harrellson was the beneficiary of a few of those Carmelo double-teams, hitting on three of five from outside the three-point arc. Also, the steadying offensive hook shot of Amare Stoudemire (20 points, 10 rebounds) got the Knicks through a rough shooting night.
The Knicks had a pretty good lead built up into the fourth quarter until New York attempted four straight threes (Bill Walker, Iman Shumpert twice, Anthony) with the score 78-61 with nine minutes remaining and then saw their guests run off 10 unanswered points to make it close again.
To prove it was a game only the winner could love, it was a six-point game with 1:45 left when the closing sequence occurred:
1:28 Carmelo Anthony traveled
1:07 Thaddeus Young turnover in the lane
0:53 Iman Shumpert turns over and fouls Andre Iguodala
0:50 Iguodala makes both free throws, making the score 83-79.
0:26 Anthony misses -- and another miss --- finally, the shot clock ran out.
0:21 Young misses a jump shot, the Knicks rebound and Carmelo would make the last two free throws.
The Knicks won despite not making a single field goal in the last nine minutes of the game. Carmelo missed all six of his field goals in the quarter -- all six points of his winning time points were free throws.
Osborn at Poasting and Toasting describes the fourth quarter:
The fourth quarter was not pretty basketball, guys and girls. The Knicks turned the ball over eleven times, squandered the lead accordingly, and won largely because the Sixers couldn't complete the comeback because they seemed exhausted. The main culprits in the comeback wereThaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala, the former of which scored every time he touched the ball for a solid three minute span.
Meanwhile, Tanner Steidel with Liberty Ballers sees some silver lining in the offensive quagmire the (third game of a tripleback) Sixers found themselves in Wednesday night:
While it was certainly disappointing to see the Sixers struggle on rotations (especially Jrue off screens), come up short on jumpshot after jumpshot, and become stagnant offensively, it's certainly understandable and not something I'm putting a significant amount of stock into. This was their third game in as many nights, their legs were most certainly tired and worn down. They very easily could have given up down 17 in the fourth quarter, but it was evident they gave every last ounce of energy they could muster up (not allowing the Knicks a single field goal in the last 9 minutes?!?!) in a comeback effort.