Knicks secure wild win with frantic final minute for 2-0 series lead

New York Knicks' Jalen Brunson (11) passes away from Philadelphia 76ers' Tyrese Maxey (0) during the first half of Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Philadelphia 76ers appeared to have stolen a win at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

But the Knicks stole it right back.

The 76ers rallied from an eight-point fourth quarter deficit to take a 101-96 lead in the game’s final minute. But chaos broke out in the game’s final seconds as the Knicks rallied for a wild 104-101 win and 2-0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs.

Frantic final minute secures Knicks win

New York had the ball and trailed by five with 32 seconds remaining. Donte DiVincenzo drove through the 76ers defense to the bucket, then kicked the ball to the left wing to Jalen Brunson. Brunson sidestepped Tyrese Maxey, then drained a 3-pointer to cut Philadelphia’s lead to 101-99.

The 76ers had the ball back with a two-point lead and the game clock at 27 seconds. But they couldn’t get the ball cleanly in bounds.

Tyrese Maxey couldn’t handle Kyle Lowry’s inbounds pass, and Josh Hart stole it from him. He kicked the ball out to DiVincenzo, who missed an open 3 from the wing. But he was given another chance.

Isaiah Hartenstein secured the offensive rebound and found DiVincenzo for another look at a go-ahead 3. This time, DiVincenzo found the bottom of the net from the top of the key to secure a 102-101 lead.

The 76ers eventually had a look to tie the game at the final buzzer. But Joel Embiid’s 3-pointer clanged off the rim as the buzzer sounded, sending Madison Square Garden into a frenzy.

The victory spoiled big nights from Maxey and Joel Embiid and saw the Knicks rally from a 9-0 hole and 10-point first half deficit. The series now heads back to Philadelphia with New York holding a 2-0 lead. It was dangerously close for the Knicks to being tied at 1-1.

Maxey catches fire after being cleared late

The 76ers got good news after pregame warmups. Maxey was questionable during the day with an illness and Embiid was limited with the ailing surgically repaired knee that’s bothered him since returned to the lineup late in the regular season. Both were cleared to play.

Maxey looked no worse for wear. He opened the game with three unanswered 3-pointers to send the 76ers to a 9-0 lead.

By halftime, he had 20 and Embiid had secured 16 points and 10 rebounds. The 76ers took a 53-49 lead into the break. The Knicks had yet to lead. That would change midway through the third quarter.

The Knicks battled back through the third before Brunson hit a layup in traffic with 4 minutes left to secure New York’s first lead at 68-67. Early in the fourth, Bojan Bogdanovic hit consecutive 3s — his first two buckets of the game — to give New York an 85-78 advantage.

The Knicks extended their lead to 90-82 and looked firmly in control with 7:43 remaining. But the 76ers weren’t done.

Led by six points from Maxey, Philadelphia mounted a 12-4 run to tie the game at 94-94. Consecutive buckets by Maxey including a 3-pointer with 1:09 remaining put the 76ers back in control with a 100-94 lead. A Lowry free throw extended the lead to 5 points with 47.1 seconds remaining. Then the frantic final moments of the game ensued to secure the unlikely Knicks win.

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