NEW YORK (AP) The familiar chants of “MVP! MVP!” for Jalen Brunson were replaced by a much different sound inside a raucous Madison Square Garden.


Deuce McBride, Brunson's backup, led a huge effort by New York's reserves in a 111-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Brunson and Josh Hart each scored 22 points, but Brunson pointed the credit elsewhere when asked in his interview on the court what it took for the Knicks to pull out the victory.

“Deuce McBride,” he said.

McBride finished with 21 points and outscored the 76ers by himself with 13 in the second quarter, when Joel Embiid had to leave after appearing to reinjure his surgically repaired left knee on a dunk. Embiid returned and rallied the 76ers into the lead in the second half, but Hart hit a couple big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks pull it out.

Hart also had 13 rebounds for the No. 2-seeded Knicks, who had lost Game 1 the last three times they opened a series at home. They host Game 2 on Monday.

Embiid finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Tyrese Maxey led the 76ers with 33 points.

“They protected home court,” 76ers guard Kyle Lowry said. “We have to go, watch the film, understand what we need to do, what we need to get better at and go from there.”

Bojan Bogdanovic came off the bench for 13 points and Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks’ former starter at center who has been a reserve since returning from ankle surgery, had eight points and 12 rebounds while playing 30 minutes and leading the effort against Embiid.

The Knicks outscored the 76ers by 37 points when McBride was in the game, 27 when Bogdanovic was in and 20 with Robinson.

“They were the reason why we won the game,” Hart said. “When your top dog is not shooting well, you need other guys to pick it up for him and that’s what they did.”

Embiid was limited to 39 games this season and missed nearly two months after having left meniscus surgery Feb. 6. He still appears to be limited - certainly not the dominant player who score a franchise-record 70 points just before his injury – but helped the 76ers past Miami in a play-in game to earn the No. 7 seed.

The 76ers listed Embiid as questionable to play and coach Nick Nurse said before the game his big man would go through his warmups before the team determined if he would play.

That might have to be the plan again Monday.

“I think he is really a warrior and he’s battling,” Nurse said. “I think he absolutely wants to play. Let’s see how he turns out here tonight.”

Embiid did well when he was out there, but the Knicks had far better balance on the roster of their first team to win 50 games since they were 54-28 in 2012-13.

Brunson has been the biggest reason for that, a first-time All-Star who was fourth in the league in scoring with 28.7 points per game. He shot only 8 for 26, but had seven rebounds and seven assists.

And some of the scoring he usually supplies was picked up by McBride, a 2021 second-round pick whose real first name is Miles. He helped the Knicks outscore the 76ers 33-12 in the second quarter.

“I think their game plan probably was definitely more focused on getting the ball out of Jalen’s hands,” McBride said. “If that’s the poison they pick, you’ve got to make them pay.”

Embiid went down with 2:49 remaining after his dunk cut it to 49-46. The Knicks scored the final nine points of the quarter and led 58-46 at the break.

But Embiid returned to start the second half and the 76ers quickly turned around the game. His 3-pointer capped a 23-11 surge out of the locker room and tied it at 69, and Philadelphia eventually went ahead 78-72 after outscoring the Knicks 32-14 to open the third.

Bogdanovic, Robinson and McBride had the Knicks’ first three baskets of the fourth to move them back into the lead and Hart helped them hold on in the first playoff game between the teams since 1989.



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