The Philadelphia 76ers dropped a nailbiter to the New York Knicks on Friday night, in a game the Sixers led by 10 with roughly 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter. But in an 11-2 flash, the Knicks were suddenly back in the game and the Sixers were battling for their lives.
One of the key moments of the game hinged on an Obi Toppin triple with about 1:30 left in the ballgame. The three-pointer sealed New York’s hard-fought win. And the player tasked with guarding Toppin? None other than Paul Reed, the young Sixers big touted for his defensive instincts.
After the game, denied responsibility for losing the game for Philadelphia, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Instead, he focused on the fact that the Knicks were already on a major run when he was subbed in with 1:46 left in the game.
“’I think that was definitely the difference when Toppin hit that three on me,’ Reed said. ‘That’s when they took the lead. But they had already went on a run before that. They were already on a run. So it was like the run started before I got in.'”
Before the play, head coach Doc Rivers went over how to properly defend Toppin.
Rivers’ Coaching Falls on Deaf Ears
Moments before Reed entered the game, Rivers sat the players down in a huddle and imported them not to bite on Toppin unless he was actually pulling up.
“We went over the play,” Rivers said. “Toppin had just made a three on Trez the play before. We told our guys not to get sucked in. We did. I thought we still could have got out there. … The guy, give them credit. He’s making shots right now, and we gave them both up.”
Afterwards, Reed acknowledged he missed the play against Toppin.
“It was just I was supposed to make a block. I was supposed to make that play. And I think that was the difference.”
Perhaps the most damaging part of last night’s loss was the fact Toppin’s shot came with both Harrell and Reed on the floor together.
Sixers’ Defensive Woes Continue
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Sixers’ defense was atrocious. Once again, with Embiid out, the Sixers were dominated at the rim, with the Knicks scoring on nearly 85% of shots at the cup. The lack of Embiid only emboldened the Knicks’ quick guards to drive to the rim, knowing they’d meet the significantly less defensively skilled Montrezl Harrell.
Even worse, the Knicks shot over 55% in the fourth quarter, when the Sixers have been known to blow late leads. And once again, the clock struck midnight for the Sixers and they were left holding a loss.
Philadelphia managed just 21 points in the final frame despite scoring 61 across the second and third quarters. The Knicks, meanwhile, turned up the jets for 32 points to close the game.
While the team is certainly going to lack some defensive ability with Embiid missing time, it doesn’t have to be this bad. Perhaps more telling was the significant offensive load carried by Tyrese Maxey. With both Embiid and James Harden out, Maxey did his best Batman impression against Gotham, exploding for 31 points. But it was too little as nary a single other Sixer managed more than 23 points (Tobias Harris).