Philadelphia 76ers Folding Like a Cheap Suit

Professor BushCorrespondent IIIMarch 22, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 21: Amare Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks dunks on Thaddeus Young #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 21, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers dug themselves a big hole to start the game against the New York Knicks.

Each of the starting five players missed at least one shot while the Knicks raced out to a 9-0 lead.  In desperation, Doug Collins swapped out some starters early, but then both Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young also missed a shot. The team missed their first 14 shots and didn't score a basket until 4:12 left in the first.

The Sixers made a rally in the second quarter to close to 31-29. But then Amar'e Stoudemire led the Knicks' response, which resulted in a 43-35 lead at halftime.

The third guarter was the Knicks' time to go cold.  The Sixers took their first lead of the game at 49-48 when Andre Iguodala hit a three-pointer from the right corner. The action was intense. Lou Williams scored the last five points of the quarter as the Sixers closed to trail by only a point.

The Sixers had a chance late in the fourth quarter, but in the last two minutes Iguodala missed a layup on a fast break and then shot an air ball. Game over. The Knicks won 82-79.

Two keys in the deciding fourth quarter have been the two issues haunting the Sixers' entire season. First, the Sixers lack a dominating big on the inside to stop anyone. Jeremy Lin was free to drive the paint and Stoudemire was free to score. Second, in a close game during crunch time the Sixers lack a star go-to player to get a critical basket.

Stoudemire led the Knicks to their fifth-straight victory with 21 points and nine rebounds. Elton Brand got a double-double for the Sixers, but did not score in the second half.

First place in the Atlantic Division should be on the line when the Celtics come to town on Friday night