Instant Observations: Harris Puts Up Another Clunker as 76ers Get Demolished by Knicks

Instant Observations: Harris Puts Up Another Clunker as 76ers Get Demolished by Knicks Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) shoots during the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (36-29) were demolished 106-79 by the New York Knicks (38-27) on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Sixers with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting to go with six rebounds. Tyrese Maxey added 17 points and four assists. The Sixers struggled to get much offense going, shooting a paltry 37.5% from the field and 24.2% from 3-point range.

Joel Embiid (left knee meniscus procedure) remained out of the lineup. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported earlier on Tuesday Embiid is “not anywhere close right now to coming back” and the hope is to have him return the last week or so of the season. The Sixers were also missing De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine bone stress) and Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise).

The Knicks were led by Josh Hart, who recorded a triple-double with 20 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists. Jalen Brunson finished with 20 points, four rebounds and nine assists. New York was without Julius Randle (right shoulder dislocation) and Mitchell Robinson (left ankle surgery).

The Sixers’ next contest is a road matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. Here are some instant observations from the blowout loss to the Knicks:


– Maxey made his return to the lineup after missing the previous four games with a concussion. He was one of the only players who showed any signs of life in this contest. Despite coming off a short absence, he did not look like he missed a step. Maxey knocked down a couple of 3-pointers while also effectively operating the pick-and-roll. The Knicks threw a lot of double teams at him in order to force the ball out of his hands. Maxey handled the increased pressure well, consistently finding open teammates. However, his teammates let him down more often than not by failing to hit their shots. In a game the Sixers got blown out in, Maxey not showing signs of rust is all that can be asked for.

– During a time where not much is going right for the Sixers, it is refreshing to see Oubre consistently look to put his imprint on the game. For better or worse, he always plays an aggressive style of basketball. He is never lacking in the confidence department and is always willing to put shots up. The same thing cannot be said about everyone on the roster.

Oubre made the only highlight play of the night for the Sixers. He punched one down on top of Isaiah Hartenstein midway through the second quarter. After attempting multiple times to put someone on a poster this season, he finally succeeded.

While being far from a perfect player, Oubre possesses a crucial combination of scoring ability and aggressiveness that is much needed on this roster.


– The Sixers have been brutal to watch over the past few weeks. Injuries have played a role in their recent offensive struggles, but they also are receiving lackluster production from throughout the rotation. Tobias Harris has had his share of issues throughout his time in Philadelphia, but he is hitting all new lows with his recent play. He has been a black hole offensively, playing with no aggression and making poor decisions with the basketball. Even when he gets open looks, he fails to take advantage. Within the opening few minutes, Harris missed a pair of wide open 3-pointers off of good feeds from Maxey and Oubre.

Harris somehow went an entire half of basketball without scoring a single point. He went into halftime against the Knicks scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting. His first-half production consisted solely of three rebounds. It took until there was 9:02 left in the third quarter for Harris to get on the scoreboard. This level of poor play is unacceptable for even the ninth or 10th player in the rotation, yet alone someone who is making nearly $40 million this season.

Harris’ struggles have not been contained to just the offensive side of the floor. After working to become an above average defender, Harris’ play is beginning to slip on that end of the floor. He is making incorrect defensive rotations, such as when he rotated off of OG Anunoby in order to defend a Hart 3-pointer in the first quarter.

Hart is not a strong outside shooter, making 32.9% of his 3-pointers this season. Rotating away from Anunoby, the better outside shooter, to defend Hart resulted in Anunoby knocking down an open 3-pointer. Mistakes like that simply cannot happen from a veteran like Harris.

Harris has reached and exceeded the point of where he is actively hurting the Sixers when he is on the floor. The Sixers came out of halftime on a roll, cutting a 17-point deficit down to 10 in the opening few minutes. Harris then blew things up, missing a layup and committing an atrocious turnover on consecutive possessions. He single-handedly ended the Sixers’ run and swung the momentum right back into the Knicks’ direction.

Harris finished with two points, three rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes of action against the Knicks. It is unlikely to happen, but Harris should be moved to the bench. At the very minimum, his minutes need to be drastically cut for the foreseeable future.

– Starting Mo Bamba at center is an insult to basketball fans everywhere. He gives the Sixers nothing on most nights. Bamba gets abused both defensively and on the glass, which is hard to fathom considering his 7-foot frame. Against the Knicks, he recorded just five points, two rebounds and a block in 17 minutes of action.

Paul Reed needs to be reinserted into the starting lineup until Embiid returns to the floor. He has his weaknesses, but Reed provides far more than Bamba. Reed always hits the glass hard, and he has shown major improvement as a scorer over the past handful of games. He finished this game with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with eight rebounds off the bench.

– The Sixers are obviously going to be worse off with Embiid off the floor. However, that does not excuse the poor performances from most of the team’s rotation players. Buddy Hield has been ice cold as a shooter, and that could not happen at a worse time. He scored nine points on 4-of-11 shooting, including 1-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc against the Knicks. Cam Payne has outperformed expectations while being asked to eat up a ton of minutes since being traded to Philadelphia. Nic Batum is not producing much and has completely lost his touch as a shooter. Even when Embiid comes back, the Sixers are not going to go far with their role players all underperforming the way they have in recent weeks.

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