The weekend duel between the Knicks and Sixers continued on Super Bowl Sunday. Unlike Friday when then 76ers snuck away with a shallow two-point victory, the Knicks came up on top winning 117-103. The Knicks are now 10-5 all-time on Super Bowl Sunday.
New York was fueled by star Amare Stoudemire’s comments after Friday’s loss at the Well-Fargo Center, “We gotta definitely look ourselves in the mirror collectively and play much better,” Amare told reporters. “We’re slacking right now.”
Stoudemire’s harsh comments ignited his surrounding teammates and his play, as he poured in 41 point at Madison Square Garden. The 41 point outcome matches a season-high for Amare, last time he did it was against Phoenix in a losing effort. The 76ers (23-27) had no answer for the versatile big man. His mid-range jump shot was on point and he is nearly unstoppable around the bucket. Every Sixers fan understood watching that ball game why he is a viable candidate for MVP.
After the result, the 7-6 sit behind the Knicks three games in the Eastern Conference Standings. With that loss, we drop to 23-27 on the season and a poor 7-19 away from home. At 7th in the East, if the playoffs began today, we would be matched up against the boys from South Beach (Miami Heat). I think it’s fair to say, that’s a duel we would like to avoid.
The Knicks controlled the tempo from early on and the pace of the game made it tough for the Sixers to keep up. We made pushes in the ball game at a come back, but each time New York would deliver a devastating blow with an answer from three-point range.
The three-pointers killed are chances at a victory. The Knicks connected on 11 balls from downtown, each at a crucial moment in the ball game. Five of those three-pointers came from surprise rookie sensation Landry Fields, who will be playing in the rookie-sophomore challenge during all-star weekend. Unfortunately for the Sixers, their rookie — Evan Turner — was not invited to the contest.
The 76ers dread the number four. For whatever reason, they cant accumulate that many wins consecutively. For the third time this season we’ve lost following a three-game winning streak. The other two losses after the mark came against the Lakers and Grizzlies.
Don’t blame Elton Brand though, he came to play. EB struggled slowing down Amare as expected at this point of his career. But offensively he was a force playing with passion and an intensity level sparingly seen. Brand followed up his 33 point outing on Friday, with a 28 point game on Sunday. He went 10-14 from the field and dialed in eight of 10 free throws as well. Brand apparently enjoys playing the Knickerbockers, in the three games this season he’s averaged 26.5 points and 11.5 rebounds a game.
Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young tallied in double scoring digits along with EB. Iguodala had some fascinating dunks on the day, and continues to be excellent in transition. His new point forward roll that Doug Collins has instilled, allows him to create more with the ball in his hands.
Lou-Will and Thad continue to be great scoring assets off the bench. Granted neither are stud defenders, their offensive production as the 6th and 7thmans have been undervalued and overlooked. Lou can light up a score sheet with the best of them once he gets hot. Thad’s versatility is hard to defend. Their bench scoring has been a critical attribute to the Sixers success.
The most alarming notion from the game was a negative sign. Point Guard Jrue Holiday played pitifully on back-to-back games against the New York Knicks. During the more recent match, Holiday didn’t score until early in the fourth quarter and finished with just two measly points. He went 1-8 from the field and had four turnovers. The worst statistic that represents his game was Jrue’s +/- which netted a negative 19 score.
Jrue is developing into a great point guard for the 76ers. At such a young age there will be lapses like these that we’ve seen against the Knicks. However, I’m concerned that this might not be a product of an off-game but rather a reflection of the new Doug Collins offense. The offense isn’t used every play, but it is often. Iguodala runs the point forward role, moving Jrue away from the ball in a slasher role. But why is Collins tinkering with the young point guard’s development? He’s still learning to play the position, and to what we’ve seen, his progression has been excellent this year. I’m not throwing away the idea of this new offense only three games in, just concerned that it might harm Jrue in the long run.
After sitting back and reflecting on the ball game, you can’t harp on this loss as a Sixers fan. The Knicks simply were the better team on the day and we had no answer for Stoudemire. It’s the third time these teams have faced and the Sixers have been victorious during two of those matches. 2-1 regular season series record against a revitalized franchise, I’ll take it.