The Knicks' low and dreary performance against the Sixers is one to forget: 'We played like-'

There was no talk of basketball, just poop.

“I played like a dog,” Jalen Brunson said. “That's it.”

In Bronson's defense, that's not the case. The New York Knicks guard couldn't make a shot, but neither can anyone else.

The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Knicks 79-73 on Sunday, marking the first time two NBA teams have scored fewer than 80 points in the same game since 2016. Both teams shot worse than 40 percent from the field. Both sides gave up on basketball as if they had discovered some specialized leather charity.

The Knicks committed 21 turnovers. The Sixers finished with 15.

Basketballs abused the backboards as much as they stuck to the net. Fans in Madison Square Garden stayed late not only because the game was close but also because there was no hope of beating the traffic after the rubber jams started at the opening tip.

Josh Hart's mind went to the same place as Bronson's, although Hart did not specify the type. This game can be the result of a dog, a bull, or a horse.

“We played like s—,” Hart said.

Neither the Knicks nor the Sixers were too cold for a poo.

“We didn't shoot the ball well,” Hart said. “Transfers: bad. I think I had six or seven, which was – you know.

If you watched the match, you could probably finish Hart's last sentence to him. Hot dog eating contests show more elegance.

Sure, Hart turned the basketball over a half-dozen times and didn't knock down any of his seven three-point attempts until prime time, when he finally nailed one, but neither his teammates nor his opponents were any smoother. Brunson, who has some consistency, had 19 points and eight assists but on 6-of-22 shooting. He sank just one of his nine three-point attempts.

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Of the five Knicks players who took more than three shots, only Bojan Bogdanovic (4 of 8) made more than 40 percent of them.

It was as if two teams secretly obsessed with satisfactory means, averages and modes had set themselves an improbable task to average 76 points between the two just for the irony of the team's title.

“Today is Sunday? Hey, it's college basketball day,” 76ers guard Cameron Payne said, referring to the start of NCAA conference championship week. “We came here and said we're not going to play four quarters; we're going to play two halves.”

But slicing eight minutes out of this 48-minute slog may not have saved it.

The Knicks shot less than 33 percent from the field, the worst single-game accuracy for the franchise in two years. They made just nine of their 40 long-range attempts, or 23 percent. The Sixers weren't much better: 39 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep.

The basketball gods get into the game just to make themselves laugh.

A second-half tussle between two Knicks (Donte DiVincenzo and Isaiah Hartenstein) and two 76ers (Paul Reed and Kelly Oubre Jr.), a foul that led to technical fouls for DiVincenzo, Hartenstein and Reed, resulted in zero points because Philly didn't do that. Hit a technical free throw.

They say the ball doesn't lie. But on Sunday, it would be nice for Ball to tell a white lie every now and then.

Knicks did his best to fight back in the end. It could have been a one-possession game in the final minute, but Brunson hit a 3-pointer that bounced off the backboard. Seconds later, Precious Achiuwa fired a volley from a corner kick in the 3rd minute.

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It was that kind of night. And in a way, the takeaway is…nothing.

The Knicks, who defeated the Orlando Magic 98-74 on Friday, did not score well, despite guarding, which they have become accustomed to recently. It is the first time since January 2004 that they have held opponents under 80 points in two straight games.

New York was physical, as was Philly. The Sixers' defenders dove into the Knicks' players, whether they were fighting to the hoop or away from it. The Knicks were never comfortable. But Philly's scorers couldn't create much either.

But as with the Knicks, this isn't the perfect, complete version of the 76ers.

Their best player, Joel Embiid, is still recovering from meniscus surgery. Their All-Star guard, Tyrese Maxey, remains in concussion protocols. That means 61 points lifted from Philadelphia's starting lineup. Another member of the first unit, De'Anthony Melton, was also injured – as was switchblade winger Robert Covington.

Philly has toppled the Eastern Conference standings since Embiid's injury — but not just because it's missing its best players. A parade of injuries has hit the Sixers, just as it has hit the Knicks, who were without OG Anunoby, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson on Sunday. Isaiah Hartenstein is still playing with Achilles tendinopathy.

It makes games like this, no matter how intense the viewing experience, difficult to parse. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has certainly already rewatched this film a time or two and maybe eight times since the final buzzer. He will return to Monday's practice with takeaways, especially considering the Knicks and Sixers have a rematch on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

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But in the grand scheme of things, what the 76ers do without Maxey, Embiid and others doesn't say much about their long-term prospects, and the Knicks' failure to score without three starters doesn't equate to their dreams of a long playoff run. They are in the toilet.

Of course, the toilet is not empty. And after Sunday, the Knicks just want to get rid of the contents quickly.

“We have to try to get rid of him,” Hart said. “I got them back on Tuesday. Try to go out and play better.”

(Photo by Donte DiVincenzo and Kelly Oubre Jr.: Sarah Steer/Getty Images)

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