The Philadelphia 76ers don’t have any big superstars, at least not ones that are healthy enough to play. As such, the Sixers appeared overmatched against Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks on Feb. 24. Yet the Sixers had two players lead the way in this game, just like the Knicks did -- although New York’s star duo was still too much.
Philadelphia was carried by Jrue Holiday’s 30 points and Evan Turner’s 21. However, New York had 29 points from Anthony and 22 from Stoudemire, which was just enough for a 99-93 victory.
Holiday and Turner combined for 51 points just like Anthony and Stoudemire, while three other Sixers scored in double figures. Yet while this should have gotten Philadelphia closer to victory, New York got 14 points from Raymond Felton and 20 combined points from its other five players.
Although the Knicks had a better supporting cast than the Sixers, it wouldn’t have been enough if their two superstars weren’t on their game. Anthony only went six-for-18 from the floor, yet did most of his damage from the free throw line with 16-of-18 shooting. As for Stoudemire, he came off the bench to go nine-for-10 from the floor in just 21 minutes.
The Sixers don’t have the tools to stand up to teams with multiple superstars, like they couldn’t against the Miami Heat on Feb. 23. But Holiday and Turner got them close in New York, with Turner being a particular surprise. Turner has been notoriously up and down, as he is capable of having a big night or a disappointing one at any given time.
Holiday is expected to be more consistent, since he was the Sixers’ only All-Star and is currently the face of the franchise in lue of Andrew Bynum. Therefore, his 30 points was in line with what he is supposed to do at his best.
But as has been the case for most of the season, Holiday’s best efforts weren’t good enough for the Sixers. If they hadn’t fouled Anthony so often and if they could have forced Stoudemire to miss a few shots, it might have done the trick. Instead, Philadelphia learned another lesson about how much easier life is with A-list stars -- and how much rougher it is without them.