Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with a game-high 30 points on 24 shots. He scored 17 points during the second half and 11 in the fourth quarter. … Evan Turner also added 21 points with eight assists. Turner also went 7 for 7 from the foul line to tie a career-best with seven made free throws. … Spencer Hawes had 10 points and nine rebounds, with eight of his points and six of his rebounds coming after the incident with Carmelo Anthony. … Tyson Chandler led all players with 12 rebounds. … At 22-32, the Sixers are 10 games under .500 for the first time since they were 3-13 in coach Doug Collins’ first season as coach. … The loss to the Knicks sends the Sixers into a virtual tie for last place with Toronto in the Atlantic Division. Both the Sixers and Raptors are four games behind the Bucks for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. … The Knicks took three out of four from the Sixers to win the season series. … Rookie Arnett Moultrie took his second DNP-CD over the last three games. Moultrie has played just seven minutes combined in the three games after the All-Star break.
NEW YORK — Riding a four-game losing streak and coming off a 24-point loss to the defending NBA champion Miami Heat the night before, the Philadelphia 76ers needed to find a spark any way they could.
Perhaps the team could get a boost from the return of Thad Young to the Sixers’ lineup? With some needed energy and an infusion of speed, Young found himself in the thick of things in his first game back from suffering a Grade I hamstring strain on Feb. 4 (see story).
And though Young pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, the Sixers’ forward couldn’t come up with the answer to stop All-Star Carmelo Anthony in the 99-93 loss to the Knicks (see Instant Replay).
Though Anthony shot just 6 for 16 from the field, committed five turnovers and was whistled for a bush-league flagrant foul-1 when he popped Sixers’ center Spencer Hawes in the back of the head for whatever crazy reason he had racing in his head, it was Anthony’s 29 points that proved the difference.
One has to wonder why Anthony was even in the game after the flagrant foul that came with 7:29 left into the third quarter and the Knicks leading by 14. Based on the replays and the explanation from the players after the game, it was nothing more than an unsolicited smack to the back of Hawes’ head.
Was there anything that Hawes to instigate?
“You can watch the tape and see what happened,” Hawes said. “I don’t usually go off like that, so the video doesn’t lie.”
So Hawes just got smacked in the head?
“Yeah,” Hawes said. “That’s my interpretation.”
For getting whacked, Hawes somehow drew a technical foul. Knicks’ center Tyson Chandler also was T’d up for shoving Hawes when the Sixers’ center confronted Anthony after the attack. For his part in starting the whole thing, Anthony was initially hit with nothing more than a routine personal foul.
After the refs chatted for a bit, that ruling was changed to a flagrant 1. A player charged with a flagrant 2 receives an immediate ejection from the game. If Anthony is charged with another flagrant foul this season, he will receive a one-game suspension. However, the NBA reviews all flagrant foul calls and could change Anthony’s to a flagrant 2 and a one-game suspension.
After the game, Anthony initially said that he didn’t even remember hitting Hawes or the skirmish that followed. But when pressed, the Knicks’ All-Star said the smack was in retaliation for an “elbow.”
“I didn’t mean to hit him the back of the head,” Anthony said. “I was just reacting to the elbow I caught.”
In the meantime, the Sixers used the incident as the catalyst for a bit of a comeback. Over the final 7:29 of the third quarter, the Sixers scored 20 points and trailed by nine to start the fourth.
“That kind of [expletive] gets me going,” Hawes said. “That’s what I like and it gets like that sometimes.”
Actually, the Sixers spent the entire game trying to climb out of a hole they dug themselves into. Though the Sixers led a by bucket at the end of the first quarter, the game was essentially decided during the start of the second quarter.
That’s when the Knicks went on a 17-2 run and pushed their lead to 20 points before the half. It didn’t help the Sixers’ chances that the Knicks also went on a run to open the second half.
“Second quarter, five minutes it was [17-2], and to start the third it was about two minutes and 8-0. So they had a seven-minute period where they outscored us [25-2],” Collins said. “That was the game.”
And though Anthony got the Sixers fired up a bit, he didn’t back off his game, either. As the Sixers whittled away at the Knicks’ lead, Anthony always seemed to get a shot to put him at the foul line. Anthony went 16 for 18 from the foul line, including 4 for 4 in the final 3:28 of the game to help ice it.
With Amar’e Stoudemire coming off the bench to get 22 points on 9-for-10 shooting, the Sixers needed a lot more to get them going than a little pushing and shoving.
“I feel like they always have a game plan, especially with Amar’e, ‘Melo and Tyson Chandler going for lobs and everything,” Collins said. “When they slowed that down, it does slow us down, especially for transition purposes.”
Next, the Sixers, at 22-32, get back at it on Tuesday night when they host the Orlando Magic.