KNICKS 82 Sixers 79 | WELLS FARGO CENTER
How it happened:
The orange and blue fans infiltrated Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night, effectively creating a playoff atmosphere between two teams fighting for postseason positioning and quite possibly a division crown.
New York’s new-look defensive attack held Philadelphia to 0-for-14 shooting through eight minutes of the first quarter. In fact, the Sixers finally hit their first field goal at the 4:11 mark while the Knicks jumped out to a 13-5 lead. New York extended its advantage to 19-11 following a thunderous one-handed dunk from Amar’e Stoudemire to close the first period.
The Knicks carried an 8-point lead into the locker room at halftime but Philadelphia flipped the script in the third quarter. Andre Iguodala nailed a long bomb to tilt the lead back in the Sixers' favor with 4:24 remaining in the period. The shot capped a 14-5 run for the home team and knocked down New York’s edge to just 59-58 at the conclusion of the third quarter.
Both squads evened out from an offensive standpoint, dropping below the 40 percent mark in the final stanza. The Knicks clamped down defensively after Lou Williams connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 63-63. Stoudemire caught Elton Brand from behind with a huge blocked shot with less than four minutes remaining. Interim head coach Mike Woodson placed a small-ball lineup on the floor with Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, and Stoudemire. The adjustment worked as New York held Philadelphia to several empty possessions and Lin executed down the stretch despite a poor shooting performance through three quarters.
Lin scored 16 of his 18 points in the final period as the Knicks snatched their fifth straight victory and improved to 23-24 on the season.
Stoudemire was a beast on both sides of the floor tonight. The big man anchored the paint with Tyson Chandler on the sidelines during the final stages of the contest. He finished with a team-high 21 points, grabbed nine boards, and hit 8-of-14 shots from the floor in 37 minutes of action.
News and Notes:
Baron Davis returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing the past two games with a strained hamstring. The point guard registered 12 minutes of court time and scored five points.
The Atlantic Division battle featured some celebrities representing their cities in the crowd. Obviously, Spike Lee rocked the Knicks gear and Will Smith received a huge ovation in the third quarter in support of the Sixers.
The two teams struggled from the floor but New York found a way to put points on the scoreboard behind 28 attempts at the charity stripe. New York nailed 22 of those shots for 79 percent and that statistic proved to be a deciding factor in the outcome.
The Knicks traveled to Toronto following the contest and will have a day off before completing the season series against the Raptors on Friday night.