May 24, 2024


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Knicks pulls off Game 2 miracle to stun 76ers

Knicks pulls off Game 2 miracle to stun 76ers


Nix was buried.

Jalen Brunson had just missed his sixth straight shot, and the crowd, which had been buzzing all evening, fell silent.

Dead silent.

Their Game 2 opportunity has come and gone. The curtain was coming down.

And then the miracle happened.

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

“Reggie Miller moment,” Clyde Frazier said afterward in the hallways of MSG. “It's all fate, man. It's all fate.”

In a frenetic, exciting 14-second stretch, the Knicks turned a five-point deficit into a one-point lead, riding that crazy wave to a 104-101 win over the Sixers at MSG and take a 2-0 lead.

The powerful shot came from Donte DiVincenzo, who scored a hat-trick with 13.1 seconds left in the game to give the Knicks a one-point lead.

But the sequence requires full accounting:

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

His shot required a fortunate bounce off the rim.

Out in Philly, Game 2's hero Josh Hart stripped Tyrese Maxey, who fell helpless on the field.

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

It found DiVincenzo, who missed a 3-pointer, leading to an offensive rebound from Isaiah Hartenstein.

The ball then went from Hartenstein to OG Anunoby to DiVincenzo for the Knicks' biggest shot in years.

“Find a way,” Bronson said.

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

“It was very loud in there,” DiVincenzo added. “Honestly, after missing the first part, I was really hoping Isaiah would get it [the rebound] Because I knew the rotation of the whole thing I would have taken a second look. Thank God he got the offensive rebound.”

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However, the Knicks needed a few more big plays to ensure the celebration — and Hartenstein had to make a tough contest on a potential missed layup from Tyrese Maxey with 7.6 seconds left.

Anunoby picked up the win from the foul line.

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

When the dust settled, the Knicks outscored the Sixers 8-0 in the final 27 seconds.

“There were some great finishes but this was up there with the best of them,” Tom Thibodeau said. “It just shows you what the playoffs are about. A lot of times, it's a hustle game here, a hustle game there, just finding a way to win. Tonight we made some big shots, quick plays, getting down the floor, coming out with a steal, coming out with a block, making Free throws we did everything.

“I never think the matches are over,” the coach added. “And it shows you that you can make up ground very quickly. 3 come in, you steal, you get 3 more, and they miss a couple — and the next thing you know, the game is changing. That's how quickly it can change. And you need good luck. In some Sometimes the ball bounces your way, and we had a ball bounce around the rim and go in, so that's part of it too.

The Knicks got away with another bad game from Brunson.

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

He followed up a failed Game 1 with a Game 2 clunker, shooting 8-for-29 overall — leaving him 16-for-57 in the Series.

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

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Meanwhile, the Sixers got plenty from their stars, even if they held on in the final seconds. Joel Embiid and Maxi were listed as questionable on the injury report before the game.

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

And they both seemed fine.

Maxey, who had been battling an illness, came out with 35 points and 10 assists. He took over in the fourth quarter, outscoring Brunson until those fateful final 27 seconds.

Embiid, who was nervous after recovering from knee surgery, dropped 34 points and 11 points.

Despite these numbers, the Knicks still won. They are back for curtain call.

“I don't think our confidence has gone down at all,” DiVincenzo said.

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