PHILADELPHIA — All Kristaps Porzingis really had to do was hit the rim. Oh, making the shot would have been nice, but the Knicks would have settled for a piece of the rim.
Or even the backboard.
Just not the bottom of the net, which was all that Porzingis’ 3-point shot found with 6.8 seconds remaining and the Knicks up one.
“That was a great look. It felt good. It went straight. It was just way too short,” said Porzingis, who had been subbed back in with 27.8 seconds remaining after sitting for 6:22. “It’s just a missed shot.”
A miss that was corralled by the 76ers’ Gerald Henderson, who broke out and found Ersan Ilyasova, who in turn passed to T.J. McConnell, who hit a tough, 10-foot turnaround on the left baseline for a 98-97 Philadelphia victory that crushed the Knicks’ spirit and sent them reeling with their ninth loss in 10 games.
“That was a tough shot. That was like a turnaround, step-back jump shot. He was able to knock it down. I was right there I was really close and he knocked it down,” Porzingis said. “Heartbreaking for sure.”
Especially considering had Porzingis’ shot made contact with a solid object, aside from opponents’ hands, the Sixers’ likely would not have had the time to rush up the ball.
“It’s a tough way to lose. If the shot hits the rim and bounces up in the air with three seconds to go they probably would’ve had to call a timeout, but the way it bounced around and kicked right out the guys were able to just go with it,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Maybe I put KP in a bad position. I think he was out for about six minutes.”
Hornacek also speculated Porzingis might be feeling tired — or feeling the effects of a recent tight Achilles that knocked him out of three games. In his past six games, including Wednesday, when he shot 3-of-10 and scored just seven points, Porzingis is 35-of-85 (.395) from the field.
“He looks a little tired to me. It’s a flat-footed shot where he’s not getting a lot of push from his legs into it. I don’t know if it’s the Achilles that’s still bothering him and he can’t push off it, but he hasn’t said that,” Hornacek said after the bitter defeat.
Porzingis, who probably is still dealing with tightness in the Achilles, waved off any possible “excuse” for his recent cold spell.
“I don’t want to make no excuses now for having some problems. I should have been ready coming in,” Porzingis said. “It was tough. Tough obviously coming in and not having any rhythm and make a big shot. But I love those kind of moments. I believe this is going to make me stronger.”
By Fred Kerber