Knicks guard Miles McBride brings the ball upcourt against the...

Knicks guard Miles McBride brings the ball upcourt against the Wizards during the second half of an NBA preseason game at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 18, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

PHILADELPHIA — Deuce McBride had sat on the bench waiting his turn for much of the season until last Saturday's trade opened up a spot as the backup point guard for him. And after a rough start that sparked rumors of the Knicks' search for a veteran option behind Jalen Brunson, McBride stated his case for the job Friday night.

In a four-minute span in the first quarter, he drained four three-point field goals in as many attempts, scoring 12 of his 15 points and helping to turn the game in the Knicks' favor in their 128-92 victory over the 76ers. On the other end, he did what he always does, harassing the opposition with tenacious defense. And he could breathe a sigh of relief after shaking the rust off of his game.

“Man it’s super-difficult,” he said of waiting for his chance. “Obviously, growing up, I’ve always been playing and then you come here in the best league in the world and you’re challenged with something like that. So I’ve just been able to have a great supporting cast with my family and other coaches and the rest of the organization just keeping me ready and keeping me positive.

“I think what I bring to the table is a great thing for the team. I think I can push the pace. I can obviously knock down shots and on the defensive end, really get stops and just keep the team positive and be a leader out there.”

Thibs respects Embiid

With the arrival of Nick Nurse as the coach of the 76ers, there has been a slight switch in how they utilize the talents of Joel Embiid. They put the ball in his hands more, partially because of the departure of James Harden and mostly because he’s one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NBA.

So Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was asked before Friday night's game if that has prompted any change in the approach to defending Embiid, who scored 30 points.

“I don’t know. I thought he was pretty good last year, too,'' Thibodeau said with a smile, referring to Embiid having earned MVP honors last season. “I think that’s one of the things about his game is that when you think about his skill set, he can play away from the basket, can play back to the basket. He can shoot it from three. He can put it on the floor. He can isolate. He’s good at getting to the second side on a dribble handoff.

"Those were the things he’s always been good at. Because of what he commands, you always have to have more than one guy paying attention to him and committed to him. It opens up other things, and I think when you add what [Tyrese] Maxey is doing, his ability to go off the dribble, and then being surrounded by the shooting they have, it’s opened up the floor even more and created more space for them. But so much of that is predicated on what he’s forcing your defense to do and his unselfishness. It’s not just his scoring and his rebounding and his shooting but it’s his playmaking also.”

Oh, so that's why

Josh Hart provided an explanation of sorts about the pass he threw about 10 rows into the Madison Square Garden seats on Wednesday.

“Quick was open down in Memphis,” Hart said, referring to recently traded Immanuel Quickley, who was playing in Memphis with the Toronto Raptors that night. “I forgot he wasn’t my teammate anymore.”

Ready to go

Malachi Flynn, part of the trade that brought OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa to the Knicks last Saturday, had been held out with an ankle injury but was listed as active Friday for the first time. Thibodeau did not say that meant he would be jumping into the rotation, as McBride has gotten the  first crack at replacing Quickley as the backup point guard.   Flynn did get in as Thibodeau emptied the bench in the final minutes.

“It’ll be situational,” Thibodeau said. “We’ll see how it works out.”

Jericho Sims, who returned to action Wednesday after missing seven games and appeared in the final 1:08 of the one-sided win, is healthy but has not reclaimed his starting spot — or a spot in the rotation.

“Just stay ready,” Thibodeau said. “He’ll get another opportunity as we go along here.”

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