Donte DiVincenzo caps desperate rally with 3-pointer, Knicks beat 76ers 104-101 to take 2-0 lead


NEW YORK (AP) — An eight-point lead was gone. The Knicks’ edge in the series and home-court advantage seemed about to follow. Madison Square Garden had fallen nearly silent.

“I mean, it wasn’t a good feeling,” Donte DiVincenzo said.

Moments later, it was bedlam.

DiVincenzo made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining after a desperate scramble, and New York beat the Philadelphia 76ers 104-101 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

The Knicks trailed by five points within the final 30 seconds before one of the most stunning rallies in playoff history, starting when Jalen Brunson finally got a shot to fall during an otherwise miserable shooting night.

Brunson’s 3-pointer from the corner bounced on the rim and fell in, cutting it to 101-99 with 27 seconds remaining. Josh Hart stole the ball from Tyrese Maxey to get the ball back for the Knicks, but DiVincenzo missed a 3-pointer. Isaiah Hartenstein grabbed the rebound and passed it to OG Anunoby, who got it back to DiVincenzo, who hit that one to make it 102-101.

“It was crazy, it was hectic, but at that point we had nothing to lose,” Hart said. “Got to get as physical as we can and it panned out.”

Hartenstein then blocked Maxey’s drive, Anunoby made two free throws, and the Knicks held on when Joel Embiid missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Brunson finished with 24 points despite going 8 for 29 from the field. Hart had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and DiVincenzo scored 19 points.

It was just the fourth time in the play-by-play era, dating to the 1996-97 season, a team won a playoff game after trailing by at least five points in the last 30 seconds, according to Sportradar. The others included Miami’s series-saving rally against San Antonio in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, Golden State’s overtime victory over New Orleans in Game 3 in 2015 en route to its first of three titles in four years, and Kobe Bryant’s game-winner to beat Phoenix in Game 4 of a first-round series in 2006.

Maxey had 35 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in a brilliant performance after he was ill earlier in the day and missed their morning shootaround. Embiid had 34 points and 10 rebounds.

Game 3 is Thursday in Philadelphia.

“We’re going to win this series,” Embiid said. “We know what we’ve got to fix and we did a better job today, so we’re going to fix it. But we’re the better team and we’re going to keep fighting.”

The 76ers appeared on the verge of going home happy after Maxey had 15 points in the fourth quarter. His 3-pointer with 1:09 to play gave the 76ers a 100-96 lead and when Kyle Lowry made a free throw with 47 seconds to go, the crowd was as quiet as it had been all night.

“That’s not a good feeling to lose that lead,” DiVincenzo said. “The next day it’s going to sting a little bit more.”

A few minutes later the fans were chanting DiVincenzo’s name deliriously after he had given the Knicks their first 2-0 lead in a playoff series since the first round against Boston in 2013.

“It was huge, it was loud as hell in there,” DiVincenzo added.

And the sting goes to the 76ers.

“Got to put it behind us now,” Maxey said. “You’ve got 48 hours to think about it and come up with a plan to get two at home.”

Hartenstein chipped in 14 points and Anunoby had 10, but it was mostly the efforts of Brunson, Hart and DiVincenzo – the three former Villanova Wildcats who will now head back to Philadelphia for the next two games.

Hart scored 19 in the first half to keep the Knicks close in a game they didn’t lead for the first time until there were four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Brunson was only 8 for 26 in Game 1 but had eight rebounds and six assists Monday.

Embiid played 39 minutes, rarely looking bothered by his surgically repaired left knee he appeared to reinjure in Game 1. But he and Maxey had little help, with Tobias Harris the only other Philadelphia player in double figures with 10 points.

Maxey, a finalist for the Most Improved Player award, hit three straight 3-pointers to start the game and send the 76ers to a 9-0 lead. They were ahead by 10 in the second quarter when Embiid was called for a technical foul. After he was called for a foul trying to block DiVincenzo on a drive to the basket, he used the ball to shove DiVincenzo back.

That got the fans into it, booing Embiid profanely, but the Knicks couldn’t make much of a dent in the score until Hart scored seven straight points, with his 3-pointer in transition cutting it to 51-48. It was 53-49 at the break.

Reserves Bojan Bogdanovic and Deuce McBride, who had big performances in Game 1, combined for 11 straight New York points for a 90-82 lead with 7:43 remaining. But Philadelphia battled back to tie it at 94 on a basket by Maxey.



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