Unexpected turning point in Knicks-Sixers exposes Joel Embiid in New York win

What a fourth quarter!
New York Knicks, Philadelphia Sixers
New York Knicks, Philadelphia Sixers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

If New York Knicks fans knew that Isaiah Hartenstein would pick up all five of his fouls in the third quarter of Game 4, they probably would've assumed the game would result in a loss. Instead, amazingly, it was the turning point for the Knicks.

New York was without Mitchell Robinson, who warmed up with the expectation of playing but couldn't go. Hartenstein nearly fouling out in the third quarter wasn't ideal, but it resulted in OG Anunoby's lockdown defense on Embiid.

After Embiid's numerous trips to the free-throw line, he finished the last 1:25 of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter with only three points, all of which came from the line. He got Hartenstein out of the game, but that paved the way for Anunoby to guard him. It's funny how things work out.

Jalen Brunson was rightfully the star of the game, scoring a playoff franchise-high 47 points, but Anunoby's aggressiveness played a huge factor in New York's 97-92 win.

OG Anunoby locks Joel Embiid up as Knicks take 3-1 series lead

Embiid was a non-factor down the stretch. Sixers fans might blame it on his bum knee, but look at the Knicks. New York was without Robinson, Julius Randle, and Bojan Bogdanovic, who left the game early with a left knee contusion. Brunson even went back to the locker room at the start of the fourth quarter but returned.

No team is 100 percent in the playoffs, and most players aren't 100 percent. Brunson isn't, but he rose to the opportunity. Meanwhile, Embiid couldn't get anything going, thanks to Anunoby.

The more Anunoby plays, the better the Knicks-Raptors trade looks. He finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks in 47 minutes. Even Precious Achiuwa stepped up on defense. He had seven rebounds and four blocks off the bench, which included an Embiid three-point attempt.

New York was without its two best centers in the fourth quarter, but that didn't matter. The Knicks are used to being shorthanded. The next man-up mentality is their motto this season. Embiid might've sent Hartenstein to the bench, but that left him with Anunoby and Achiuwa. He learned his lesson, didn't he?