Lowry’s Sixers debut includes ovation, stitches


PHILADELPHIA — Kyle Lowry may not have dreamed of playing for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers, but he admitted that stepping onto the court for the first time in a Sixers uniform and receiving a standing ovation Thursday night was a “great moment” in what ultimately was a 110-96 loss to the New York Knicks.

“It was great,” Lowry said after finishing with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists in 25 minutes off the bench. “Unfortunately, we didn’t play as well as I think we can.

“But it was an amazing atmosphere and the ovation that I got was awesome. I was happy. I was pissed that we lost and we were in that situation, but it was a great moment. Now for me it’s about winning basketball games.”

There hasn’t been a lot of that in recent weeks for Philadelphia (32-23), which is now 6-15 this season without reigning MVP Joel Embiid and has lost six of its last eight games overall. But the hope here is that with Lowry now on the court, along with Nicolas Batum (hamstring) and De’Anthony Melton, who will return Friday against Cleveland after missing several weeks with a back injury, the 76ers will be able to start stabilizing themselves as they wait for Embiid to potentially return from a knee injury.

Lowry’s impact was immediately evident, as he was flying around the court making one play after another in his first game since Jan. 18, when he was playing for the Miami Heat before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets in a deal for Terry Rozier, all while trying to claw Philadelphia out of a double-digit hole the 76ers were in from virtually the opening moments of the game.

“He was really good,” said 76ers coach Nick Nurse, who spent almost a decade with Lowry in Toronto as both an assistant and head coach. “He fought hard. He made plays.

“He played really good for not playing for a month, especially, and being in a tough situation. He kind of came in and the game was already, he was in fight back mode almost the whole time he was out there and he was doing everything he could to get us back in it.”

It initially appeared as if Lowry’s homecoming would be short-lived, as he took an elbow to the head from Jericho Sims in the first half that left him with a large gash on his forehead that required six stitches.

But Philadelphia announced at halftime Lowry would return for the second half, and he played a key role in the 76ers nearly pulling off what would’ve been a wild comeback, cutting the deficit all the way to six points before the Knicks (34-22) eventually pulled away again in the closing minutes.

“I go out there and do my job,” Lowry said. “We get paid an awful lot of money to go out there and play basketball and be professionals and given the opportunity to play basketball. I’ve been doing this for 18 years now and these games are important to play. Just being out there and playing basketball, doing a job that you love to do, especially doing it in front of some great fans and for a great organization and against great competition.

“We had four Villanova guys out there tonight (Lowry and Knicks guards Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo) and it’s always great to be playing against those guys and always the competition that you love for the game.”

For New York, Thursday’s game saw its own series of returns to the court, as DiVincenzo (hamstring), Bojan Bogdanovic (calf) and Isaiah Hartenstein (Achilles) all played for the Knicks, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Before the game, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Hartenstein would play in shorter stints in his first game back, and he ultimately just played the first few minutes of each half before being subbed out.

Bogdanovic, meanwhile, went 6-for-6 from 3-point range and led New York with 22 points in his best performance since arriving in a deal with the Detroit Pistons earlier this month.

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