PHILADELPHIA — Led by Carmelo Anthony, New York is at last on the right kind of streak.
The worst team in the Eastern Conference is suddenly on a hot streak. New York snapped its 16-game losing streak Monday with a win against New Orleans and made it two straight with the victory against the lowly Sixers.
The Knicks won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 30-Nov. 2.
"Guys are still having fun with the game and not letting our record keep us down," Anthony said. "We're still enjoying the game of basketball."
The Sixers' eight wins are only one more than New York's total, and each team is battling to better its odds to win the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery.
Knicks President Phil Jackson tried to tell Knicks fans better times were ahead by building around Anthony. The Sixers started the season on a 17-game losing streak and have been open about a rebuilding process that included holding a bounty of draft picks.
The teams instead played in game that was billed as "Tank Bowl."
Sixers rookie center Nerlens Noel was sent home with an illness and their 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid has not played this season.
New York (92.7) and Philadelphia (90.0) entered at the bottom of the league in scoring averages and labored to even crack 80 in this one until a surge in the final minutes.
The Knicks let a 14-point lead be sliced to three on Michael Carter-Williams' fast-break layup with 7 minutes left. MCW — as he's known around the league — had 25 points by that time but it came on 9 of 23 shooting. He finished with 27.
"I was just trying to keep us in the game," Carter-Williams said. "I was trying to keep it close and hopefully at the end we could squeeze it out."
Not this time.
Carter-Williams had one less option on offense with Noel out with the upper respiratory infection. Noel griped after Monday's blowout loss at Washington that the offense had become stagnant and the Sixers have "to be able to reward our big guys."
Coach Brett Brown said passing always remained a point of emphasis, though the responsibility, "will always be dropped on the point guard's doorstep."
He also downplayed any hint of a rift between two of Philadelphia's projected cornerstones.
"It's two friends trying to figure it out. It's healthy," Brown said. "These guys, they amazingly get along and coexist on buses and locker rooms and all that. Just sometimes, they don't pass to each other. They're so tunnel visioned, it's not that they're selfish."
Both the Knicks and 76ers insist they are not tanking, fielding a noncompetitive roster in hopes of bettering the odds for high draft picks and potential franchise players. The likely prize this year is Duke center Jahlil Okafor.
Anthony opened the second half with consecutive 3s that helped the Knicks build a 61-47 lead. Robert Covington pulled the Sixers to 91-87 on a 3-pointer with 1:30 left that at least ensured that the few thousand fans that turned out would get a competitive finish.
Langston Galloway, who starred at nearby Saint Joseph's, ended the threat of a comeback with a 3 from the corner that made it 96-89 and produced a nice roar from the Knicks fans that always make the short trip to Philly.
"I had to get one up real quick and it went down for me," Galloway said.
Knicks: Forward Lou Amundson and center Jason Smith played for the 76ers. ... New York has won four straight and 15 of 20 in the series. ... Jose Calderon scored 15 points.
76ers: Guard Tony Wroten sat again with a sprained right knee and forward Luc Mbah a Moute was out with a left knee contusion. ... Brett did not rule out Embiid playing this season, though it still remained unlikely.
JERAMI ON THE BLOCK:
Forward Jerami Grant had eight blocks, the most for a Sixer since Samuel Dalembert had nine on Dec. 12, 2007 vs. Minnesota and the most by a Sixers rookie since Shawn Bradley had nine on Jan. 17, 1994 at Dallas. He had the most blocks by any rookie since Milwaukee's Larry Sanders had eight on Dec. 1, 2010 at Denver.
Knicks host Orlando on Friday.
76ers host Toronto on Friday.
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