PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carmelo Anthony had 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the New York Knicks past the Philadelphia 76ers 98-91 on Wednesday night.
The worst team in the Eastern Conference is suddenly on a hot streak. New York snapped its 16-game losing streak Monday with a win against New Orleans and made it two straight with the victory against the lowly Sixers.
The Sixers’ eight wins are only one more than New York’s total, and each team is battling to better its odds to win the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery.
Knicks President Phil Jackson tried to tell Knicks fans better times were ahead by building around Anthony.
The teams instead played in game that was billed as “Tank Bowl.”
The Sixers started the season on a 17-game losing streak and have been open about a rebuilding process that included holding a bounty of draft picks.
Sixers rookie center Nerlens Noel was sent home with an illness and their 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid has not played this season.
New York (92.7) and Philadelphia (90.0) entered at the bottom of the league in scoring averages and labored to even crack 80 in this one until a surge in the final minutes.
The Knicks let a 14-point lead be sliced to three on Michael Carter-Williams’ fast-break layup with 7 minutes left. MCW — as he’s known around the league — had 25 points by that time but it came on 9 of 23 shooting. He finished with 27. Jerami Grant had eight blocks.
Carter-Williams had one less option on offense with Noel out with the upper respiratory infection. Noel griped after Monday’s blowout loss at Washington that the offense had become stagnant and the Sixers have “to be able to reward our big guys.”
Coach Brett Brown said passing always remained a point of emphasis, though the responsibility, “will always be dropped on the point guard’s doorstep.”
He also downplayed any hint of a rift between two of Philadelphia’s projected cornerstones.
“It’s two friends trying to figure it out. It’s healthy,” Brown said. “These guys, they amazingly get along and coexist on buses and locker rooms and all that. Just sometimes, they don’t pass to each other. They’re so tunnel visioned, it’s not that they’re selfish.”
Both the Knicks and 76ers insist they are not tanking, fielding a noncompetitive roster in hopes of bettering the odds for high draft picks and potential franchise players. The likely prize this year is Duke center Jahlil Okafor.
Anthony opened the second half with consecutive 3s that helped the Knicks build a 61-47 lead. Robert Covington pulled the Sixers to 91-87 on a 3-pointer with 1:30 left that at least ensured that the few thousand fans that turned out would get a competitive finish.
Langston Galloway ended the threat of a comeback with a 3 from the corner that made it 96-89 and produced a nice roar from the Knicks fans that always make the short trip to Philly.
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