James Harden never got a chance to dance much on the Knicks’ grave when he was in Brooklyn, but he seemed to take great delight in doing so in a Sixers’ jersey in Sunday’s Garden matinee.
The Knicks’ season has turned into a train wreck as Harden and center Joel Embiid did whatever they wanted at the Garden before a large contingent of Sixers fans that chanted “MVP” when the superstar center was at the free-throw line.
The new dynamic pair hooked up in the fastbreak often as Embiid finished with 37 points and Harden 29 points and 16 assists as the Sixers held on for a 125-109 victory. Harden could be seen celebrating with vigor after some of Embiid’s hoops off his dishes.
The Knicks are amid a stretch of playing five straight games on national television and they are not quite worthy of this stage, playing sloppy all game.
But they battled and backup point guard Immanuel Quickley led a second-half surge that gave them a one-point lead early in the fourth before they flamed out.
Quickley finished with 21 points on 5 of 13 shooting and was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
It was the Knicks’ fifth straight loss and they are 3-15 in their past 18. In falling 11 games under .500 at 25-36, the Knicks are looking at a March mess in a death march to their eighth lottery appearance in nine years.
Off his 46-point night Friday in a loss to the Heat, RJ Barrett tried to do too much early. He finished with 24 points and four turnovers, shooting just 9 of 22, 6 of 10 on free throws. Evan Fournier added 24, but Julius Randle had another off day (16 points, 4 of 13).
A Randle missed 3 midway through the fourth led to a picture-perfect fastbreak as Harden led Embiid for a monstrous slam.
The Knicks fell behind 75-64 with 8:08 left in the third after Randle’s pass was intercepted by Matisse Thybulle, who fed Maxey for a fastbreak layup. But the Knicks scratched and clawed — with Quickley the top pest — and trailed just 91-89 after three. After Barrett drove in for a layup, Quickley stole the inbounds and dribbled to the 3-pont line and nailed it but that was the end of the Knicks’ highlights.