“I’m not going to take it for granted. I came in as a lottery pick, so I was kind of handed the spot and stuff like that. So the fact that I’m in that position again, it’s a blessing,” Mudiay, selected seventh overall in the 2015 NBA draft, said. “Thank God for it. I just have to take full advantage.”
New York is looking to evaluate its younger players to see if they can be part of the club’s young core going forward. The Knicks also hope to add an elite young player in the 2018 NBA draft. While no one in the organization would ever acknowledge it, playing younger players also may give the Knicks a better chance to lose games more often down the stretch and land a top pick in the NBA’s lottery system.
In addition to Jack, who didn’t play Thursday after starting 56 games for New York, other Knicks veterans such as Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas may see a reduction in minutes to give younger players more playing time. Thomas played 25 minutes in Orlando and his defense was a key factor in the victory. Lee had 10 points in just 14 minutes, less than half of his season average (32 minutes per game).
Simmons scored a career-high 32 points, making two free throws with 5.6 seconds left to complete Philadelphia’s rally from five points down in the final minute, and the 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 116-115.
“Stepping up to the line, I knew I was going to knock `em down. You have to have that mentality,” he said.
Joel Embiid had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Simmons added 11 assists and seven rebounds as Philadelphia won its sixth straight and snapped a four-game road losing streak.
Bobby Portis had a career-high 38 points and Zach LaVine added 23 for the Bulls, who were 18 for 34 on 3-pointers.
“He’s a guy that continues to grow and develop,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s been fun to see him shooting the ball without any hesitation.”
Chicago had a 115-114 lead and the ball with 8 seconds to go before Embiid deflected an inbounds pass to create a turnover. Simmons came up with the ball near halfcourt and was fouled by Denzel Valentine. He made both free throws.