Knicks Beat Sixers 107-97 as Philadelphia Loses 9th Straight

The Knicks led by as many as 30 points in the game, dropping Philadelphia to 1-27 on the season.

Rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jahlil Okafor squared off in their first regular season game tonight as the Sixers fell to the New York Knicks 107-97 | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jahlil Okafor squared off in their first regular season game tonight as the Sixers fell to the New York Knicks 107-97 | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers fell to 1-27 on the Sixers when the lost to the New York Knicks by a score of 107-97 Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The loss was the Sixers’ 9th in a row, most of which weren’t competitive. Seven of the nine losses have been by at least 10 points and they’ve lost those 9 games by an average point differential of -17.4 points per game.

Tonight’s 10 point loss didn’t do justice to just how badly outclassed the Sixers were, as the Knicks led by as many 30 points on the night. A late 14-2 run by the Sixers in the final three minutes of play made the game look more respectable than it was.

“I strive for some type of rhythm to the team, and we haven’t achieved that yet,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said after the game. “I knew the first third [of the season] was going to be hard. I didn’t expect it to be this hard.”

A big part of the Sixers’ struggles stem from a defense that has taken a big step back this season. After finishing last season with the league’s 13th ranked defense in terms of points allowed per possession, the Sixers are now ranked 25th, and headed in the wrong direction.

Those defensive struggles continued tonight, as the Sixers gave up 107 points to the Knicks on 85 field goal attempts. The Knicks shot 47.1% from the field and made 21 free throws. To make matters worse, the Sixers defensive rebounding was brutal on the night, as the Knicks collected 14 offensive rebounds despite only missing 45 shots.

“We have to guard the perimeter. That has been a challenge, and I think more-so than I expected,” Brown continued. “[Our defense] has been non-existent lately. We’re getting manhandled physically with adult NBA wings.

“This middle third [of the season] is when we’ve learned in the past we’ve been able to move forward, to really play prideful defense at NBA levels,” Brown continued.

He’ll certainly have his work cut out for him with a team that has, so far, shown no signs of being able to defend at a high level.

Beyond physical gifts or athletic profiles, there’s a fight that all great defensive teams require, and one that this team hasn’t yet shown.

“We have some new additions to the team this year,” third year center Nerlens Noel said. “Guys have to build that chippiness and toughness that when we do get scored on, we have to feel something. We have to know that’s not right. That’s something this team is developing.”

The road for the Sixers doesn’t get much easier, as they play seven of their next eight games on the road. Tuesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies will be the Sixers’ final home game before the calendar flips to 2016.

Quick Thoughts:

* Isaiah Canaan, who started the game at shooting guard despite giving up 6″ to Arron Afflalo, got absolutely destroyed by Afflalo tonight. The Knicks’ shooting guard scored 22 points on 13 field goal attempts, which included 3-5 from three point range. Canaan, on the other hand, shot just 4-10 from the field for his 14 points and was a team-worst -20 on the night.

* Tony Wroten had 7 turnovers in 23 minutes of play. He has more turnovers (21) than made field goals (18) on the season. That’s not good. Wroten also had his shot blocked, rather emphatically, three times by Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis.

* The Sixers, as a team, shot just 56.7% (17-30) from the free throw line. That’s also not good.

* Robert Covington had one of his tougher games since returning to form after his early season injury troubles. He shot just 1-5 from the field for his three points and was limited to only 16 minutes of play.

* Nik Stauskas didn’t appear at all in the first quarter and only played 7 minutes on the night. It was the second consecutive game Stauskas didn’t attempt a field goal, totaling 20 minutes of play over the last two games without taking a shot.

* Jahlil Okafor had another strong offensive game, finishing with 20 points on 9-17 shooting from the field. He overpowered Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis at times, was able to get by his man with an array of crafty moves, and he hit a couple of jump shots, which is always encouraging for his development. His defensive struggles continued, however, and he fell back into some of his poor defensive rebounding habits, collecting only 5 rebounds, all defensive, in his 30 minutes of play.

* Backup big man Richaun Holmes continues to play well for the Sixers, as Holmes chipped in 10 points and 3 rebounds in an 18 minute run. He’s averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds in an expanded role off the bench the past two games.

* Kendall Marshall started at the point for the Sixers, but struggled on both ends of the court and played only 15 minutes. Marshall shot just 1-4 from the field and had only 3 assists to 2 turnovers on the night, and he once again struggled mightily to stick his man on the perimeter and deny dribble penetration.

* Nerlens Noel had a solid stat line (8 points on 4-4 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 blocked shots), and I thought he was active defensively, pressing Porzingis on the perimeter when he had to guard the 7’3″ Latvian shooter, then altering shots at the rim when his man pulled him closer to the paint. Still, the Sixers interior defense was porous, as the Knicks shot 65.2% on contested shots at the rim.

By The Numbers:

* The Sixers played at a much faster pace with the bench unit. For example, the Sixers averaged 93.17 possessions per 48 minutes when Kendall Marshall was on the court vs 106.03 possessions per 48 when Tony Wroten played. That was true pretty much across the board, with most of the starters falling between 93-97 possessions and most of the bench between 104-106. That didn’t necessarily translate to offensive productivity, though: the Sixers scored just 81.1 points per 100 possessions with Wroten on the court, 105.0 with Marshall playing.

* Defense, though. Yikes. The Knicks scored 155.2 points per 100 possessions during the 15 minutes Kendall Marshall played. In this instance, the bench was better virtually across the board, although they obviously played more minutes against the Knicks reserves than the Sixers starters did.

* Percentage of defensive rebounding opportunities: Jahlil Okafor grabbed just 16.1% of the available defensive rebounds while he was on the court, with Nerlens Noel (18.2%) and Richaun Holmes (17.6%) not faring better. That’s not a good enough effort from the Sixers big men. It was not an instance of “big men box their man out so Sixers can control the glass”, either, as the Knicks grabbed 30.4% of their available offensive rebounds.

* Speaking of rebounds, Jahlil Okafor was “in the vicinity” (within 3.5′) of 9 defensive rebounds tonight. He came down with just 5. As a team, the Sixers were in the vicinity of 60 defensive rebounds, but came away with only 32 on the night.

* Tony Wroten turned the ball over on nearly 30% of his used possessions. That’s incredible. And not in a good way.

* The Sixers shot 37.9% on uncontested field goals. THIRTY SEVEN POINT NINE. As a point of reference, they shot 55.6% against Atlanta, a much more palatable number. Perhaps a worse indicator, though, is that the Knicks had 40 uncontested field goal attempts, 11 more than the Sixers.

* The Sixers had a pretty even distribution in terms of who handled the basketball, at least. The top-3 players are who you would expect: Wroten (56 touches), Marshall (51), and Okafor (47). 9 players touched the ball at least 30 times.

* Jahlil Okafor ran the most for the Sixers, traveling 2.08 miles during the course of the game. He also had the second slowest average speed at just 4.16 miles per hour, on average.  This figure does include any time standing, so it’s natural that big men would be near the bottom each night, and in fact Noel was the third slowest, on average, at 4.25 miles per hour. A better measure would be how quickly the big men got up and down the court, something which is not available on

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine’s new Sixers Post. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.