Knicks pulls off Game 2 miracle to stun 76ers

NBA

It was an off-Broadway miracle.

In a frantic and exciting 14-second stretch, the Knicks turned a five-point deficit into a one-point lead and cruised to a crazy 104-101 victory over MSG.

The powerful shot came from Donte DiVincenzo, whose hat-trick gave the Knicks the lead. But the sequence requires full accounting:

Jalen Brunson played poorly all evening, finally nailing a 3-pointer — his first of the fourth quarter — to cut the lead to 2 with 27 seconds left.

It took a lucky bounce off the rim.

Off the inside, the Knicks stripped Tyrese Maxey, who fell to the court.

Josh Hart, the hero of Game 2, picked up the steal.

That led to a quick miss from DiVincenzo, then an offensive rebound from Hartenstein, and then a big DiVincenzo triple.

Donte DiVincenzo #0 reacts after hitting the game-winning three-pointer over 76ers Nicolas Batum late in the fourth quarter. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Maxey missed a potential winner for the Sixers on the ensuing possession, and Anunoby nailed the winner at the foul line to give the Knicks a commanding 2-0 lead.

Once again, the Knicks got away with a bad game from Brunson.

He followed up his Game 1 failure with a Game 2 clunker, shooting 8-for-29 overall — leaving him well under 30 percent in the series.

But his teammates picked up the slack, most notably former Villanova teammates Hart (21 points) and DiVincenzo (19).

Josh Hart No. 3 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball while Nicolas Batum No. 40 of the Philadelphia 76ers and No. 12 Tobias Harris defend during the second half of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Getty Images
Donte DiVincenzo #0 reacts with Jalen Brunson #11, Myles McBride #2, and Josh Hart #3 of the New York Knicks after the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Sixers have gotten a lot from their stars.

Not just in the last seconds.

Embiid and Maxey were listed as questionable on the pregame injury report.

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And they both seemed fine.

Maxey, who had been battling an illness, came away with 20 points in the first half, burying 7 of 11 shots.

He took over at the end of the fourth quarter, outscoring Brunson and finishing with 35 points and 10 assists.

Joel Embiid looks for a call during Game 2 against the Knicks Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Tyrese Maxey (0) nods after making a 3-point basket during the second half of Game 2. AP

Embiid, who has been mobile during his recovery from knee surgery, added 16 points with 10 boards in the first two quarters.

He finished the evening with 34 and 11.

In the first half, the Knicks were saved by Hart's heroics.

The forward was typically a grunt-action contributor, earning 19 of the team's 49 points in the first half.

The Knicks trailed in the second half, but continued to advance.

They finally took the lead late in the third quarter, setting up a thrilling finish.

Jalen Brunson celebrates during Game 2 against the 76ers on Monday. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“We dominated the glass in the first game, so they will take a different approach and perhaps emphasize the turning points and advantage we have on the boards,” Bojan Bogdanovic said. “So it's going to be a match, a really good fight. It's probably going to be a bad match, but that's the reality of it.”

'Bad' may be an exaggeration but there were a few fireworks moments. With 5:23 remaining in the second quarter, Embiid was called for a technical for shoving DiVincenzo while holding the ball.

It prompted “F–k Embiid” chants from the MSG crowd, which the Sixers center welcomed with head nods.

Tyrese Maxey #0, loses the ball when New York Knicks guard Josh Hart #3 and New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson #11 are defending in the final seconds of the game. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

This play woke up the fans, but the Knicks were unable to capitalize immediately, calling a timeout shortly thereafter due to a Tobias Harris hat-trick.

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DiVincenzo came alive with 19 points, the biggest shot in years for MSG.

He was confident of a breakthrough.

“My mindset is that my confidence is at an all-time high,” DiVincenzo said before the game. “I'm ready to go tonight and I'm going to shoot people I feel comfortable and confident with and live with the results.”

“The series doesn't really start until after the first game because everyone wants to get that first game under their belt. Adjustments are made. They obviously know they want to play more physical. We outplayed them.” [in Game 1], so we expect them to be physical and attack the glass. The more we beat them in the categories we beat them in, the more we expect them to do it that much harder. The mentality is to be ready and play the same way but improve it a little bit.




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