PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jalen Brunson heard “MVP!” chants each time the New York Knicks All-Star stepped to the free-throw line. The former Villanova All-American signed dozens of autographs before the game - many for fans wearing his old college jersey.

Spike Lee wore Brunson's Knicks gear from his baseline seat and the filmmaker was as animated as he would have been while sitting in his familiar spot at Madison Square Garden.

But this was in Philly - even though cheers for the Knicks and their team colors inside the arena made it seem like a stand-in for Madison Square Garden.

Brunson had 21 points and 12 assists, and the Knicks spoiled Kyle Lowry’s Philadelphia debut with a 110-96 win over the 76ers on Thursday night.

“Playing here in college, growing up in south Jersey for a little bit, it definitely is fun playing here,” Brunson said before he dressed in a Wawa letterman's jacket. “I really enjoy it.”

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 22 points, Josh Hart had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Precious Achiuwa added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks.

New York made 18 of 34 3-pointers.

All-Star Tyrese Maxey led the 76ers with 35 points. Maxey made 11 of 24 shots but had little offensive help, a common theme for the Sixers in MVP Joel Embiid’s absence.

“Early, we didn't communicate in certain spots, we didn't follow the game plan,” Maxey said. “We didn't follow what coach was telling us what to do.”

Lowry could add some punch off the bench for the Sixers. He won a championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019 while playing for Nick Nurse, who is in his first season coaching the 76ers.

A six-time All-Star, Lowry received a standing ovation late in the first quarter when he checked in for the first time since he signed last week. The public address announcer noted the moment, saying, “making his Sixers debut, from North Philly, No. 7 Kyle Lowry!”

Lowry, who also played at Villanova, went up-and-under on the Knicks and scored his first bucket about 40 seconds later. Lowry’s homecoming was short-lived - he took an inadvertent elbow to the face on a driving layup from Knicks forward Jericho Sims. Lowry, who finished with 11 points in 25 minutes. buried his face in a towel and went straight to the locker room. He received stitches and returned with an adhesive bandage on his forehead in the third quarter.

By then, the Knicks led 71-56 behind their own former Villanova stars - Brunson, Hart and Donte DiVincenzo. The trio of national champions had a bulk of the crowd cheering for them.

Lee, the famed director, went wild on each long Knicks run and pointed skyward or clapped after each big New York bucket.

The Knicks - still playing without OG Anunoby, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson - gave Lee plenty of reason to cheer. New York built a 26-point lead and added to its cushion in the Eastern Conference standings. The Knicks are fourth at 34-22; the 76ers are 32-23 - including 6-15 without Embiid.

“We've got to get people back,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It's not going to happen overnight. There's an urgency to this. We can keep talking about kicking it down the road. We can't keep kicking it down the road. We've got to be ready now.”

When DiVincenzo hit an early 3 off an assist from Brunson, Lee jumped out of his seat and pumped his fist. One laugh in the first half came when Brunson dumped a pass behind his back to a streaking DiVincenzo. DiVincenzo - once known as the Michael Jordan of Delaware - botched the dunk.

DiVincenzo, who scored 16 points, did chase off a broom sweeper when he turned a midcourt steal into a bucket.


Knicks: Host Boston on Saturday night.

76ers: Host Cleveland on Friday night.



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