The New York Knicks appear to be trending in a positive direction as they aim for their third straight win when they battle the host Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.
Yet they’re far from satisfied.
The Knicks reportedly acquired Josh Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers for Cam Reddish and a lottery protected first-round draft pick in 2023. Svi Mykhailiuk and Ryan Arcidiacono are also headed to the Trail Blazers in the deal that was made ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline.
Hart and Jalen Brunson were teammates at Villanova.
It’s unclear if Hart will be available to play against the Sixers.
The Knicks defeated the Orlando Magic 102-98 on Tuesday behind Brunson’s 25 points and Julius Randle’s 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Brunson, who arguably could have been named as a reserve for the All-Star team, has proven to be one of the top free-agent acquisitions in the league.
“As professionals our job is to show every day and play basketball and let the front office deal with all those situations,” Brunson said. “But I love my teammates, getting to know these guys. They’ve been welcoming for the guys that were here before me. The relationships made these last couple of months have been special, so I love these guys.”
Brunson and Randle, who was named as an All-Star reserve, have carried the Knicks all season.
“I thought Julius and Jalen set the tone in the fourth quarter. Just the way we closed -- big rebounds, physicality, hustle plays,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The Sixers will look to rebound following a disappointing 106-99 loss to the short-handed Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
Joel Embiid scored 28 points and James Harden added 26 points and 11 assists, but the Sixers lost their second straight.
“I just thought our defensive discipline the entire night was just poor,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said. “Our offensive movement was poor. And I think when you play that way, you probably should lose the game.”
The Sixers did not make a major move before the trade deadline, but they dealt role player Matisse Thybulle to the Portland Trail Blazers in a three-team deal and received Charlotte Hornets wing Jalen McDaniels in return.
McDaniels, 25, was averaging career highs of 10.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 56 games (21 starts) this season before the trade.
The Sixers had been playing at a much higher level before these past two losses to the Knicks and Celtics.
Now that the trade deadline has passed, they’ll simply have to refocus and work on getting to at least the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001.
“It’s part of the business,” Harden said. “I mean, this happens every single year. I think, as a professional, you got to just go out there and do your job to the best of your ability and whatever happens, happens. Some things you really can’t control.”
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