Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart help Knicks beat 76ers in Game 1

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., bottom center, and guard Kyle Lowry, back left, during the first half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK — Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart each scored 22 points, Deuce McBride led a huge effort by New York’s backups with 21 and the Knicks beat the Philadelphia 76ers 111-104 on Saturday night in Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference first-round series.

McBride outscored the 76ers by himself with 13 points in the second quarter, when Joel Embiid had to leave after appearing to reinjure his surgically repaired left knee on a dunk. He returned and rallied the 76ers into the lead in the second half, but Josh 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 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.

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.

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.

He 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.

READ: Jalen Brunson carries Knicks into No. 2 in East

Brunson has been the biggest reason for that, a first-time All-Star who was fourth in the league in scoring. He shot only 8 for 26, with “MVP! MVP!” chants by the crowd during a raucous pregame at Madison Square Garden being replaced by the sound of “Deuce!” in the second quarter as the former second-round pick whose real first name is Miles helped the Knicks outscore the 76ers 33-12.

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.

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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.

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