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Knicks rally late to stun Sixers, take 2-0 NBA playoff series lead

Knicks rally late to stun Sixers, take 2-0 NBA playoff series lead
Knicks rally late to stun Sixers, take 2-0 NBA playoff series lead

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LOS ANGELES: The New York Knicks scored eight points in the final 27.4 seconds to stun the Philadelphia 76ers 104-101 on Monday (Apr 22) and take a 2-0 lead in their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series.

Jalen Brunson’s three-pointer with 27.4sec to play pulled the Knicks within two points and after Josh Hart came up with a steal, Donte DiVincenzo capped a chaotic possession with a three-pointer from the top of the key to put New York up 102-101.

OG Anunoby sealed it in front of an ecstatic Madison Square Garden crowd with a pair of free throws as the Knicks joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in taking a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

The Cavs led wire-to-wire in a 96-86 victory over the Orlando Magic.

It was a crushing defeat for the 76ers, who didn’t trail until late in the third quarter, when a Brunson layup gave the Knicks a 68-67 lead.

Philadelphia’s NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid was clearly hindered late by pain in his surgically repaired left knee, but the Sixers appeared to have regained control when Tyrese Maxey, fed by Embiid, made a three-pointer with 1:09 to play that put the Sixers up 100-96.

Kyle Lowry added a free throw to give the Sixers a five-point lead with less than a minute to play, but the Knicks responded.

Brunson finished with 24 points despite connecting on just eight of 29 shots from the field. He added eight rebounds and six assists and Hart added 21 points and 15 rebounds for New York, who will try to keep the pressure on when the series shifts to Philadelphia on Thursday.

Maxey, who skipped the Sixers’ morning shoot-around because of illness, finished with 35 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Embiid added 34 points and 10 rebounds but missed a three-pointer at the final buzzer.

In Cleveland, Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points and Jarrett Allen added 16 points and 20 rebounds for the Cavaliers in another dominant win over the Magic.

The Cavs, eager to expunge the memory of their first-round loss to the Knicks last season, have posted two straight wire-to-wire victories.

The youthful Magic can only hope to turn things around when the series shifts to Orlando for game three.

“It’s easier to do it here at home,” Mitchell said. “Now we’ve got to do it on the road. We’ve got to stay locked in and communicate. We’ve got to find a way to quiet down that arena.”

Paolo Banchero led Orlando’s scoring with 21 points and Franz Wagner added 18.

Magic guard Jalen Suggs was helped from the court in the first quarter after banging his knee trying to come up with a steal from Mitchell, but he returned in the third quarter and finished with nine points.

In Monday’s final game, the defending champion Denver Nuggets will seek to extend their dominance over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers when they host game two of their Western Conference series.

Nikola Jokic scored 32 points to power the Nuggets in a 114-103 game one victory on Saturday, extending their winning streak over the Lakers, who they swept in four games in the Western Conference finals last season.

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