PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Despite the offensive outburst, it was the Philadelphia 76ers’ defense that really pleased coach Maurice Cheeks on Friday night.
“That game was won based on our defense,” Cheeks said of Philadelphia’s 116-87 win over the New York Knicks. “We set the tone early on defense and scored off their misses.”
Elton Brand had 24 points and 14 rebounds, Andre Miller added 20 points and eight assists and Willie Green had 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting for Philadelphia (1-1), which shot 59.1 percent (52-for-88) from the field and led all the way.
The Sixers held the Knicks to 32.7 percent shooting (32-for-98) and just 15 fourth-quarter points.
“Tonight we hit some shots but it started with our defense,” Green said. “We wanted to press up on them and make them take tough shots.”
The Knicks played without former All-Star Stephon Marbury, who was deactivated prior to the game.
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni and Marbury met Friday and Marbury asked the coach if he was going to play. When told he would not be seeing action, Marbury reportedly requested he be put on the inactive list and D’Antoni and the guard mutually agreed to take that action for Friday’s game.
“This is the direction we’re going and there will be some nights like this,” D’Antoni said about the Marbury situation. “If I was playing everything for tonight, you’d do things differently. But we’re trying to build a base for going forward.”
Marbury was not available for comment after the game.
Lou Williams added 15 points and Thaddeus Young had 13 for the 76ers, who counted Phillies All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins among their backers in a crowd dressed in Phillies red on a day Philadelphia’s baseball club celebrated its second world title with a parade down Broad Street.
Jamal Crawford led five Knicks in double figures with 14 points. David Lee added 13 points and 11 rebounds for New York (1-1), which trailed by 30 points in the fourth quarter and never got closer than seven in the second half when it was 64-57 with 8:41 left in the third quarter.
“Bad outing tonight,” D’Antoni said.
The Knicks, sporting a new up-tempo offensive look this season under D’Antoni, likely could’ve used Marbury’s scoring. They scored just 15 points in the fourth quarter and generally looked out of sorts offensively for most of the game.
“Overall we didn’t move the ball well and didn’t shoot the ball well; tough night,” said Knicks guard Quentin Richardson, who finished with eight points.
Philadelphia took control in the third quarter when Miller displayed his passing and scoring skills. The guard capped an 18-7 Philadelphia run with an 8-foot jumper that helped the Sixers take an 84-64 lead with 4:18 left in the period. Earlier in the run, Miller had back-to-back assists on fast-break layups by Samuel Dalembert and Brand.
“Andre Miller did a great job of executing and distributing the ball,” Richardson said. “He’s a great point guard.”
Wilson Chandler and Lee had three points apiece during an 8-2 spurt that cut the Sixers’ lead to 86-72 with 1:48 left. But Miller made a layup and Green hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1.3 seconds left to increase Philadelphia’s lead to 91-72 after three quarters.
Green said he has been focusing on improving his perimeter game, especially with the team’s addition of Brand this offseason.
“I’ve been working in practice on getting shots from the corners,” he said. “If you have a guy as good as Elton is, you make adjustments to get open more.”
Miller made six of seven shots and had 13 points in the third.
Brand scored 18 points, making 9 of 14 shots, as the 76ers took a 60-48 lead at halftime. Philadelphia made 27 of 47 field goals (57.4 percent) in the first half. The half was highlighted by a fast-break, behind-the-back pass from Williams to Andre Iguodala, who slammed it home to give Philadelphia a 35-29 lead with 9:24 left in the second quarter.
Knicks forward Eddy Curry did not play for the second straight game. … Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins attended Friday’s game. … The Sixers said they sold 2,000 tickets for $10 during a promotion for fans wearing Phillies gear. … Philadelphia has won 10 of its past 12 against the Knicks.