The New York Knicks climbed out of a 21-point hole to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 108-97 on Sunday night in the US as the Toronto Raptors authored another NBA comeback win and the depleted Denver Nuggets fell.
Evan Fournier scored nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for the Knicks as New York’s reserves played a key role in the team’s biggest comeback win of the season.
Julius Randle led the Knicks with 24 points and Jalen Brunson added 21, but with ailing RJ Barrett a late scratch the bench contributed 37 points and the Knicks bounced back from a crushing overtime loss to the Clippers on Saturday.
Sixer big man Joel Embiid was his usual dominant self, his 31 points including 18 from the free-throw line.
Philadelphia led by 21 in the first quarter, but the Knicks had cut that deficit to two points at halftime and after briefly taking the lead were down by three going into the fourth.
New York surged in the final period. Their 10-0 run capped by Fournier’s three-pointer put them up by four and they wouldn’t trail again.
It was an eye-catching performance for France’s Fournier, who was bumped to the bench this season and has been at the center of trade speculation with the deadline looming next week.
Although the 76ers’ second unit struggled, coach Doc Rivers said that wasn’t the reason for the defeat.
“We were just not emotionally strong tonight — mentally,” Rivers said. “I thought they were the mentally tougher team and they deserved to win.”
The Raptors also staged an impressive comeback, erasing a 15-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Grizzlies 106-103 in Memphis.
Pascal Siakam scored 19 points and drained a pair of clutch free throws that capped the scoring with 9.1 seconds remaining.
Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. missed a potential game-tying pointer with 5.2 seconds left and the Grizzlies, whose star Ja Morant was sidelined with a sore right wrist, dropped their third straight.
In his absence, Desmond Bane led Memphis with 26 points and Jackson added 18.
But they had no answer when 21-year-old Raptors forward Scottie Barnes came alive in the fourth quarter. Barnes scored 13 of his 16 points in the final frame — including a slashing go-ahead basket with 20.7 seconds to play.
Cavs cruise past Pacers
In Minneapolis, the Minnesota Timberwolves had little trouble on the way to a 128-98 victory over the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, who were without reigning two-time Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic and three other regular starters on the second night of a back-to-back.
Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves with 20 points. D’Angelo Russell scored 18 and French center Rudy Gobert and reserve Jaylen Nowell scored 16 apiece in the wire-to-wire win.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have put together back-to-back wins for the first time since a three-game streak that ended on January 4 thanks to a convincing 122-103 victory over the Pacers in Indianapolis.
After a back-and-forth first quarter that featured seven lead changes, the Cavs pulled away in the second quarter with a 26-9 scoring run that gave them a 16-point lead at the interval.
Darius Garland led the Cavs with 24 points on efficient eight-of-13 shooting with four three-pointers.
Donovan Mitchell shook off a slow start to finish with 19 points and the Cavs held the Pacers to just 43.5% shooting.
“Last couple of games I think we found our edge,” Garland, who hit a career milestone with his 500th three-pointer, said in an on-court television interview. “We got that competitive spirit that we really needed.”