Tyrese Maxey Saves Sixers From Elimination With Huge Finish In Ot Win That Cuts Knicks' Lead To 3-2

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) reacts during the first half of Game 5 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) reacts during the first half of Game 5 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Tyrese Maxey made his Madison Square Garden memory, engineering a season-saving comeback with a rapid-fire flurry that evoked memories of Reggie Miller.

Not that he was thinking about his own legacy as those 3-pointers fell through the net.

“Going through my mind right there was just, find a way to survive,” Maxey said.

The 76ers did. Now they're thinking about advancing.

Maxey saved Philadelphia from elimination with seven points in the final 25 seconds of regulation, finished with 46 and led the 76ers to a 112-106 overtime victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night in Game 5 of their first-round series.

The Sixers trailed by six points with 28 seconds left in regulation before Maxey pulled out a comeback that had team trainer Kevin Johnson talking to him about Miller's eight points in nine seconds for Indiana in an out-of-nowhere comeback at Madison Square Garden in 1995.

Asked to describe the feeling, Maxey settled on “mandatory.”

“Like, we had to. Our season on the line,” he said.

The All-Star guard converted a four-point play with 25 seconds remaining to cut it to two, and after Josh Hart's free throw, pulled up from 35 feet to tie it at 97 with 8.1 seconds left in front of a stunned crowd that was set to celebrate the Knicks' second straight trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Joel Embiid finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for the Sixers, who will host Game 6 on Thursday night.

Jalen Brunson scored 40 points for the Knicks, who were thinking about a possible Game 1 of the second round at MSG on Saturday night. Instead, it could be Game 7 of this series, which seemed all but over.

“It was a tough way to lose because you get up six, eight and then we had a couple turnovers and we’ve got to just be better,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Play tougher with the lead, use good judgement. Fourth quarter is different, understand the difference. So we can do better and we will.”

It was the second desperate rally to avoid what seemed like certain defeat in what has been a razor-tight series between Atlantic Division rivals. The Knicks won Game 2 after trailing by five points with under 30 seconds remaining.

Embiid, who has been ailing and missed shootaround with a headache, didn’t score like usual after coming into the game with an NBA-leading 35 points per game in the playoffs. But Maxey picked up the load, making seven 3-pointers while adding nine assists.

“I think that considering that our No. 1 option was struggling, for him to say, ‘All right, I got to put this team on my back and go,’ I just kept encouraging him, like, to take his chances, take his shots, make plays,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. “And he certainly did it and got in a rhythm and made a whole bunch of them.”

Maxey had the most points by a Sixers player in a win to stave off elimination, surpassing Hall of Famer Allen Iverson's 44 in a Game 7 win against Milwaukee in the 2001 Eastern Conference final.

Maxey's last 3-pointer got the 76ers on the board in overtime after Brunson scored the first five points. That triggered a 9-0 run that Embiid capped with a three-point play with 1:40 remaining for a 106-102 lead, and after Brunson’s 3 tied it at 106, Kelly Oubre Jr. made the tiebreaking basket with 1:02 to go and Tobias Harris followed with two free throws.

Harris had 19 points and Oubre scored 14.

Hart had 18 points and OG Anunoby 17 for the Knicks, who won Game 4 at Philadelphia and didn't appear like they were heading back there. But the Sixers' rally to win by six meant the No. 7 seeds have outscored the Knicks by two total points in the series.

Embiid was the target of the loud and long boos before the game even started, Knicks fans angry after his flagrant foul on Robinson in Game 3 in Philadelphia. They had plenty of chances to jeer him after Embiid also had nine turnovers in a sloppy performance.

But thanks to Maxey, Embiid might be playing in front of that MSG crowd one more time.

“It’s not hostile," Embiid said of the taunts that were frequently profane. “I mean, I love New York. New York is one of my favorite cities in the world. I have (had) a place here for the past five years. I just love New York. And then the fans, when you play against a team, they’re always going to pick that guy and they seem to have picked me, which is fun. I love it.”

Embiid shuffled slowly through the locker room a little more than an hour before the game, resting his head in his hand while he briefly sat before going to warm up. He may have lacked energy, but the 23-year-old Maxey, the winner of the NBA's Most Improved Player award, seems to have a limitless amount.

Robinson returned after missing Game 4 with a sprained left ankle, but the Knicks announced before the game that Bojan Bogdanovic would miss the rest of the playoffs and have surgery on the left foot he injured in Game 4.

The Knicks, who have flourished when Embiid is resting in the series, started a 22-5 run while he was out in the second quarter and went up by 10 points in the period. They were ahead 70-69 going to the fourth.


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