NBA playoffs

‘Not easy’: Knicks hold off 76ers for series-clinching win


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‘Not easy’: Knicks hold off 76ers for series-clinching win

MAIN MAN. Knicks guard Jalen Brunson reacts after a bucket against the Sixers in Game 6.

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

‘Every game has been like this,’ says Jalen Brunson as the Knicks survive a tough series against reigning MVP Joel Embiid and the Sixers

Jalen Brunson poured in a game-high 41 points, Josh Hart broke a late tie with a three-pointer, and the New York Knicks eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers from the NBA playoffs with a 118-115 victory in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series on Thursday, May 2 (Friday, May 3, Manila time).

By virtue of their 4-2 win, the second-seeded Knicks will move on to face the sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers in an Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinal series. 

Game 1 is set for Monday, May 6, in New York.

Seeking a second win in three visits to Philadelphia during the series, the Knicks led 107-99 with 3:26 to play before the desperate 76ers rallied into a 111-all tie on a three-point play by Tyrese Maxey that included a goal-tending call on Isaiah Hartenstein with 34.9 seconds to go.

The Knicks then went to Brunson, who drew the defense and found Hart open for a straightaway three-pointer that put the visitors ahead for good at 114-111 with 25.6 seconds left.

“I give both teams a lot of credit for how they fought and how they played,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. “

I give them a lot of credit for hitting a big (three-pointer). The series could have went the exact opposite than it did, but it didn’t, so congratulations to them for finishing on a positive side.”

Donte DiVincenzo and Brunson capped the victory by sinking two free throws each, Brunson’s successes coming with 7.7 seconds remaining and leaving the 76ers only an opportunity for a Buddy Hield buzzer-beating heave that hit only the backboard.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, even with the lead that we had,” Brunson told TNT after the game. “We tried to play with the lead, but we knew they were going to keep fighting.

“Every game has been like this. It’s not how you start, it just matters how you finish it.”

Brunson shot 13-for-27 from the field and 12-for-16 at the free-throw line. It was his third straight 40-plus-point effort, and he added a game-high 12 assists.

Hart finished with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while DiVincenzo totaled 23 points, OG Anunoby 19, and Hartenstein 14.

Joel Embiid paced the 76ers with 39 points and a team-high 13 rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds. He made 12 of his 25 shots and all 13 of his free-throw attempts.

“I thought he was tremendous tonight,” Nurse said. “He had a lot of things going on. He fought through a lot of adversity.”

Hield buried six three-pointers on a 20-point night off the bench, while Maxey, who had a team-high five assists, and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 17 points apiece. Nicolas Batum scored 16 points.

Down by 22 points less than 10 minutes into the game, the 76ers turned the tables in the second quarter to pull ahead 54-51 by halftime.

Former Sacramento Kings teammates DiVincenzo and Hield played big roles in each team’s run. 

DiVincenzo hit three three-pointers in New York’s 33-11 opening flurry before Hield responded by nailing five threes and putting up 17 points in Philadelphia’s 32-15, second-quarter comeback.

A tight fourth quarter featured three lead changes and four ties, the last one at 111-all. –

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