Jrue Holiday was one of five Eastern Conference players named as an All-Star reserve on Thursday who will be making their first career appearance in the NBA’s midseason exhibition.
Someone should have told him he already earned the honor.
Holiday exploded for a career-high 35 points, to go along with five rebounds and six assists as his Sixers blew out the Knicks in Philadelphia on Saturday 97-80.
Simply put, Philadelphia wanted this one more than New York did. The Sixers played hard-nosed and intimidating defense all night long, especially inside, as they limited the Knicks to just 28-81 shooting, including a miserable 4-27 from three-point distance.
Carmelo Anthony struggled from the field for the second straight game, and once again put up big numbers in the points column but did so extremely inefficiently. Anthony finished with a team-best 25 points, but did so while making just nine of his 28 shots.
J.R. Smith, who has been spectacular at times for the Knicks this season finished the game scoreless, missing all eight of his shots while playing 27 minutes off the bench.
The Sixers led by as many as 29 points in the third quarter, and blew the game open to the point where New York essentially conceded the rest of the way.
If you’re scoring at home, the Knicks team that was so impressive over the first couple of months of the season is now just 3-5 over its last eight games. The three-point shooting is regressing to the mean, and Anthony is being forced into taking a high volume of shots that aren’t falling at anywhere near a respectable percentage.
New York’s defense was highly ranked earlier in the year, but has faltered over the last month or so. That, combined with the poor shot selection and struggle to get easy baskets offensively has set the Knicks back a bit, and the won-loss record is starting to reflect the deeper issues in play with the team now that we’re approaching the halfway point of the season.
Philadelphia just wanted this game more than New York did, and they came out and took it, plain and simple. Holiday’s career night was the catalyst, but the way the Sixers defended aggressively as a team was the difference in this one.