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New-look Knicks demolish 76ers in Philadelphia

David Dow / National Basketball Association / Getty

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Brunson playfully tried to escape a media scrum in front of his locker by announcing that Josh Hart was ready to talk to reporters.

Hart surely wanted to speak for himself after scoring 10 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and finishing a whopping plus-46 for the New York Knicks.

Impressive, yes? Not to Brunson,

“I could care less,” he deadpanned.

Brunson smiled as he peeked at Hart at a neighboring stall, the two former Villanova teammates with plenty of reason to joke after a laugher in Philly.

Brunson hit four 3-pointers and scored 29 points to lead the Knicks to a 128-92 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.

Brunson even played reporter, asking Hart how he felt about posting “the highest plus/minus in NBA history?”

“Well, they staggered my minutes with you. So it was easy,” Hart said.

The entire game was for the Knicks. They hit 18 3s and made 24 of 25 free throws.

Quentin Grimes added 19 points and Isaiah Hartenstein had 17 to help New York to its third straight win since acquiring OG Anunoby in a trade with Toronto. Donte DiVincenzo also made four 3s and scored 14 points.

“The way we’ve been able to gel so fast, it’s been great,” Brunson said. “We’ve just got to continue to get better.”

Joel Embiid twisted his left knee early — “I’ll be fine,” he said — and had 30 points and 10 rebounds for the Sixers. Embiid extended his franchise records to 16 straight 30-point games and 15 in a row of 30 points and 10 rebounds.

Still, the Knicks turned this one into a romp early and their visiting fans only got louder as the game went on, chanting “Go New York, Go New York, Go” in the waning moments of the rout. The Knicks were thrilled with another win with Anunoby, who scored 11 points, on their side.

Hart and Brunson sat on the scorer’s table during a timeout in the second half and chatted, their bond as tight in New York as it was on the Main Line.

“We’re a pretty good post-trade team,” Hart said. “Maybe we can make some more trades. No one in here. Maybe some 2040 picks, or something like that. Keep it rolling until the trade deadline until we can’t do it anymore.”

Miles McBride, who had 15 points, hit two 3s in the final 90 seconds of the first quarter for a 34-30 lead. Brunson took control from there, playing every bit like the star he’s blossomed into in the NBA.

Philly fans got a sneak peek of what was ahead during Brunson’s three seasons at Villanova. Against the 76ers, he buried three 3s and scored 16 points in the second quarter — in the same arena where two Villanova national championship banners that he helped win are raised in the rafters. Fans in Brunson’s No. 1 Villanova jersey dotted the crowd.

Brunson even got called over by Allen Iverson for a halftime hug. The former 76ers star sat courtside in the first half and received a roaring ovation when he was introduced to the crowd.

Tyrese Maxey scored 27 for the Sixers, who lost third-leading scorer Tobias Harris (17.3 points per game) to left ankle soreness. Harris had only five points in 24 minutes. The 76ers committed 14 turnovers.

“I don’t think we took them lightly,” Maxey said. “They just hit us in the mouth at the end of that first (quarter).”

Embiid looked sluggish in his second game since missing four straight with a sprained right ankle. Bothered more by the knee, Embiid was slow moving — when he moved at all.

Late in the first half, Julius Randle missed a jumper and Embiid made no attempt at the rebound. Hart cut untouched under Embiid for an uncontested tip-in and a 15-point lead.

“Just a really tough night for the ball going in for us,” Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse said. “It was 3s, free throws, layups — everything seemed to be not bouncing our way.”


The Knicks play Saturday at Washington.

Harris is questionable to play when the 76ers host Utah on Saturday.