WASHINGTON: T.J. McConnell nailed a short jump shot at the buzzer to give the Philadelphia 76ers a 98-97 home NBA win over the reeling New York Knicks on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
With their 11th win of the season the 76ers surpassed their total from their dismal 10-72 campaign in 2015-16,.
McConnell, a second-year guard, connected from the left baseline, capping a rally that saw Philadelphia erase a 13-point deficit in the final 8:17.
Joel Embiid had 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for the 76ers, and Ersan Ilyasova contributed 16.
“I thought they made gutsy plays,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said of his team. “I thought they executed stuff that we drew. I thought they didn’t play afraid.”
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 28 points. Derrick Rose, whose unexcused absence from Monday’s loss to New Orleans rocked New York, scored 25, but the performance of the Knicks stars wasn’t enough to stave off a ninth defeat in 10 games.
Rose’s layup with 34.5 seconds remaining gave the Knicks a 97-94 lead, but the 76ers’ Gerald Henderson hit two free throws with 27.8 seconds left.
Henderson also rebounded a missed three-pointer by New York big man Kristaps Porzingis in the waning seconds and raced downcourt.
He passed to Ilyasova, who fired the ball to McConnell, who dribbled, spun away from Anthony and fired as Porzingis flew at him.
The basket dropped as the buzzer sounded.
McConnell finished with eight points and seven assists.
While Philadelphia’s decision not to call a timeout to set up a last-possession play raised eyebrows among some pundits, Brown was satisfied with it.
“We told them, if you feel like you’ve got something, take it,” he said, adding that his young team is gaining confidence with every win.
The Knicks, in contrast, seem a team in some disarray.
They fined Rose an undisclosed amount after he skipped Monday’s home game, later saying only that he had a “family issue” that prompted him to travel to his hometown of Chicago.
Coach Jeff Hornacek said the team determined a fine was punishment enough, and while he thought Rose should have notified the team sooner of his situation, he sounded an understanding note.
“It happens,” Hornacek said. “He knows that he’ll handle it differently, if it ever happens again, but we have to move forward.”
Hornacek said he had no qualms about putting Rose in his starting lineup, and Rose justified that faith. He made six of seven shots en route to 12 first-quarter points.
He scored eight in the fourth quarter as the Knicks tried in vain to hold off the Sixers.
Rose met with Knicks president Phil Jackson and Steve Mills after rejoining the team on Tuesday and said before the game he was glad to be back with his teammates, two days after he said he didn’t get in touch with the team because he needed space.
“I feel fine,” Rose said. “What happened a couple of days ago, that’s in the past.”