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Bad karma gets best of Knicks after they start Derrick Rose

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 1/12/2017 Frank Isola

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PHILADELPHIA – The Knicks needed the Sixers’ point guard to go AWOL on Wednesday.

Karma comes in all shapes and sizes and in the final frantic seconds of a game the Knicks had to have, someone named T.J. McConnell handed Jeff Hornacek’s team the most disheartening loss of their imploding season.

BOX SCORE:  76ERS 98, KNICKS 97

 “This is embarrassing,” Courtney Lee said. “The way we keep losing games there’s no excuses. It’s us. This (expletive) is definitely embarrassing.”

It was fitting that the player making the biggest shot of the night was McConnell, the Sixers’ unheralded point guard who beat the buzzer with a turnaround jumper over Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony that will haunt the Knicks.

The final score was 98-97 but the real story was that the Knicks blew it twice on Wednesday; allowing Derrick Rose to even play set the stage for a night that had bad karma written all over it.

The Sixers rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 2:19, which is almost as inexcusable as Rose not showing up for work last Monday and doubling down on his bizarre behavior by failing to notify the team.

The season is spiraling out of control both on and off the court for the Knicks, who have lost nine of their last 10 entering Thursday’s home game against Rose’s former team, the Chicago Bulls.

The Knicks are now a pitiful 17-22 and you have to wonder how long before Garden Chairman James Dolan erupts, and rightfully so, over the state of his basketball team.

This is what you get for trying to win at all costs. The Knicks are so desperate for a victory that they sacrificed all team values and didn’t suspend Rose for going AWOL. It would have been a tough call for Phil Jackson to make but it would have been the right call.

Rose played well, scoring 25 points and making 11 of 16 shots, including a wonderful reverse lay-up with 34.5 seconds left that gave the Knicks a 97-94 lead.

But Rose was also a minus-21 during his 32 minutes on the court. McConnell, an undrafted 6-foot-2 guard out of Arizona, played 34 minutes. He was a plus-2.

In another life, Rose would have torched a player of McConnell’s stature. But after knee injuries robbed him of his explosiveness and interrupted his career, Rose is that type of player occasionally but never consistently.

Hornacek went with a lineup featuring Anthony, Joakim Noah and Rose in the final seven minutes. Porzingis was on the bench until he replaced Noah with 27.8 seconds left and the Knicks up 97-96.

All that time on the bench did not serve Porzingis well when Brandon Jennings found him alone in the corner in front of the Sixers bench. A made basket and the game is over. Even if Porzingis hits the rim, the Knicks might be in business.

“That was a great look,” Porzingis said. “It felt good. It went straight. And it fell way too short.”

Porzingis launched an air ball with six seconds left that was grabbed by Gerald Henderson, who immediately began the break. He found McConnell, who had Anthony on his hip and Porzingis under the basket. With time running out, he calmly sank a 12-foot jumper that sent the Wells Fargo Center into delirium.

“I was right there,” Porzingis said. “I was really close.”

Asked to describe the feeling when McConnell scored, Porzingis, who took just 10 shots, missing seven, simply said “heartbreaking.”

Meanwhile, Joel Embiid finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds including a banked in 3-pointer with 1:21 that cut the Knicks’ lead to 95-92.

Trust the Process, you say? Well, the Sixers played Embiid in crunch time minutes and still got the win. The Knicks? Porzingis was on the bench for most of the last seven minutes, returning only to badly miss a shot that led to Philadelphia’s game-winning basket.

The future of the Knicks played nine fewer minutes than Anthony, four fewer minutes than Rose.

And you know what they say about karma.  

PHOTOS:  2016-17 NBA SEASON

Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram (14) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant, center left, and Zaza Pachulia (27) defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 12, in Oakland, Calif. 2016-17 NBA Season
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