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Jalen Brunson, Knicks put 76ers on brink of elimination with Game 4 win

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PHILADELPHIA — In the end, the Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t win a street brawl in front of a raucous Wells Fargo Center crowd, and now their season is on life support.

That’s because Joel Embiid had little help from his teammates on Sunday as the New York Knicks topped Sixers’ 97-92 in Game 4 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference first-round series.

The Knicks took a 3-1 series lead and can close it out with a win in Game 5 in New York.

The Sixers had their chances. Down by 4 in the final minute, Embiid missed inside. The Knicks got the rebound, but Josh Hart missed two free throws. The Sixers got to within 3 on a Kyle Lowry free throw with 7.5 seconds left. They never got another chance.

Embiid finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds while playing through a knee injury and Bell’s Palsey. But it was not enough to counter the Knicks’ Jalen Brunson, who had 47 points, and the Knicks’ relentless defense.

For most of the game, the two teams were trading shot for shot and going blow for blow. It was physical, but the Knicks made the clutch plays at the end.

Still, Embiid had to play the entire second half, sitting out only four minutes to start the second quarter, at a raucous Wells Fargo Center, with plenty of Knicks fans on hand.

While Embiid sat early, the Knicks immediately erased the Sixers’ 10-point lead.

The Knicks were up by a point to start the fourth because Brunson had 38 of the Knicks’ 77 points through 3 quarters.

Embiid wasn’t getting much help from his teammates. The Knicks took a 5-point lead early in the fourth quarter after Nicolas Batum and Tobias Harris had dunks blocked. Brunson, meanwhile, kept scoring.

Then the Knicks really turned up the defense. With the Sixers down 3 with just under 3 minutes left, Embiid was lined up for a 3-point shot. But Precious Achiuwa blocked it into the stands off Embiid, giving the Knicks the ball.

Tyrese Maxey also struggled. He scored 23 points, but he made just 8 of 21 shots.

Now, the Sixers have to win three straight games to keep their season from ending.

Donte DiVincenzo heats up after slow start, but Brunson steals show

It took a while for Donte DiVincenzo to get going for the Knicks. He missed his first 6 shots through the midway point of the 3rd quarter after going 2-for-7 in Game 3.

But then DiVincenzo hit two straight 3-pointers, cutting the Sixers’ 8-point lead to 1. Jalen Brunson, meanwhile, was scoring throughout the game. He had 38 points through 3 quarters. His three-point play with 5 seconds left in the frame gave the Knicks a 77-76 lead heading into the fourth.

Bell’s Palsey or knee bigger issue for Embiid

Sixers coach Nick Nurse was asked before the game, which malady is bothering Embiid more, the knee or the Bell’s Palsey.

In the third quarter, Embiid blocked a shot and went to the ground holding his knee. He got up slowly and stayed in the game.

“He doesn’t really say,” Nurse said. “Usually, one day he gives me one answer, the next day he gives me another. The (maladies) usually improve from each day a little bit. He doesn’t talk about it. He really talks about adjustment and game plan and things we can do better.”

Embiid can’t play every minute, and that’s a problem for Sixers

The difficult part of Nick Nurse’s job is that he knows he can’t play Embiid for every minute of every game.

Embiid played the entire first quarter and the Sixers had a 10-point lead. Paul Reed replaced Embiid to start the second quarter. The Knicks immediately cut into it. By the time Embiid returned, the lead was down to two points. But the Knicks were on a roll, and took a 2-point lead on Jalen Brunson’s jumper with 5:31 left.

Then Embiid settled in and the Sixers took a 5-point lead later in the quarter before the Knicks cut it to 2 at the break.

The Sixers were plus-8 with Embiid on the court for 20 minutes, minus-6 when he sat out for 4 minutes.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on X @Mfranknfl.

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