Kemba Walker was patient and knew his time would come.
“I waited for that moment,” Walker said. “That moment” came in the second quarter last night at Madison Square Garden.
Walker went 4 for 4 in a furious stretch of the second quarter and scored 10 of his team leading 19 points as he led the Knicks to a 112-99 thumping of the Philadelphia 76ers. The win ended a 15-game losing streak against their division rivals. The Knicks had not beaten the Sixers since April 12, 2017 when the immortal Maurice Ndour made the game winning shot at the Garden with :18 seconds left for a 114-113 win.
Walker got off to a slow start as he missed his first three shots and was replaced in the first quarter by Derrick Rose. When the Bronx born guard came back into the game with 5:49 remaining in the second quarter, he just went off as the Knicks took a 62-42 halftime lead.
“It’s the kind of moment I’ve dreamed of since I was a young kid waiting to be in the NBA.” Walker said after the game. “Watching the Knicks play, you know coming to a Knicks’ game and seeing how the crowd goes crazy. That was a great moment for me.”
The Knicks continued their early season, three point barrage as they shot 43% (16 for 37) from beyond the arc. Walker was 5 for 11 from three point range. Evan Fournier shot 4 of 6 from three and had 18 points, while Julius Randle scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Knicks were 14 for 15 (93%) from the free throw line, a distinct improvement over the first three games where they shot 65%.
The Knicks got 42 points from the bench. In fact, it was the second unit that energized the Knicks after the starting unit got off to a sluggish start.
Late in the first quarter, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau had his entire second unit on the floor. Obi Toppin, Alec Burks, Taj Gibson, Immanuel Quickley and Rose got the team going.
The Knicks trailed 26-23 after one, but Rose made a three pointer to tie the game at 28. Toppin made his first shot to put the Knicks up 30-28 and they would never trail the rest of the way.
A combination of Mitchell Robinson and Gibson was able to keep Joel Embiid at bay. The Sixers center scored 14 points but 10 of those were from the free throw line as he only had two field goals.
Philadelphia shot 29% from three (12 for 41) and the Knicks scored 19 points off of 15 Sixers’ turnovers. Tobias Harris scored 23 points to lead the Sixers who dropped to 2-2.
The Knicks led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter. When Philadelphia cut the lead to 92-78, the Knicks answered with five straight points to keep then at arms length.
Burks hit a technical free throw and buckets by Quickley and Randle upped the lead to 97-78. The Knicks kept up their defensive intensity the rest of the way as they coasted to one of their more impressive wins in recent memory.
The Knicks faced a Sixers team that is missing their all star guard, Ben Simmons, who caused a stir during the off season by claiming he would never play for the team again. “They’re a loaded team and Ben’s an all star type player,” Thibodeau said after the game. “I think they’re real talented.”
All ten Knicks who saw minutes, scored points, as Thibodeau continues to utilize his deep bench that has been a factor in their 3-1 start. “It was just such a great team win. Everybody contributed in many different ways,” Walker said.
Walker got his moment. Knick fans are hoping for a lot more moments.