The Philadelphia 76ers were on their way to tying their Eastern Conference first-round series against the New York Knicks on Monday, but a chaotic ending to Game 2 had the Sixers getting the short end of the stick. When it was all said and done on the court, Philly was left in disbelief as its five-point lead with under a minute left in the fourth quarter turned into a three-point loss, 107-104.

The final minute of Game 2 between the 76ers and the Knicks had so much going on that there was probably enough material for a three-episode NetFlix documentary. In that case, the reaction of Joel Embiid to the wild ending has to be included.

“Sixers got f****d,” Drew Hanlan captioned a post on X (formerly Twitter) that also has two photo evidence of what many Philly fans assume as late-game blunders by the refs that hurt the 76ers' chances of leveling the series at 1-1. The first photo showed Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey getting his jersey pulled by Jalen Brunson just before Maxey lost possession of the leather that led to a go-ahead 3-pointer by Donte DiVincenzo. Philly fans believe the refs should have called a foul on Brunson during that play.

Meanwhile, the second photo showed Maxey on the floor as he was getting harassed by Knicks defenders before he lost control of the ball during the same sequence. Philadelphia head coach Nick Nurse can be seen in the background asking fo a timeout that was seemingly not acknowledged by any of the refs.

76ers need a solution soon

76ers center Joel Embiid (21) is defended by New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein
© Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Blaming the refs for mishandling a game's officiating is the most convenient way to find an explanation for a loss. The 76ers may be right in saying that the botched job by the refs in the fourth quarter was a big reason behind their defeat in Game 2, but at the same time, Philadelphia also had its shortcomings.

For one,  the Sixers let the Knicks get multiple crucial offensive rebounds that gave New York life in the clutch. There was also not much support from the other Sixers not named Joel Embiid or Tyrese Maxey. Embiid concluded the game with 34 points and six rebounds, while Maxey powered Philly with 35 points and 10 assists despite appearing on the injury report because of an illness.

Tobias Harris shot just 4/11 from the field and gathered 10 points. Kyle Lowry and Kelly Oubre Jr. combined for just 12 points and 10 personal fouls. The Sixers' bench in Game 2 was putrid with only 10 points to show. (Buddy Hield has two points so far in the series.)

Through two games in the series, Maxey is leading Philly with 34.0 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the field. Embiid is right behind him with 31.5 points per outing. Embiid is getting to the foul line a lot (12.0 per game) but he still needs his shooting splits to go up, as he's just making 39.2 percent of his attempts from the floor and 23.5 percent of his shots from behind the arc.

While frustration mounts for the 76ers, they can't lose their focus. They have two full days of rest to gather themselves and devise a plan for a successful counterpunch against the Knicks. Philadelphia should get a major boost in Game 3 this coming Thursday from its home crowd, as the series shifts to the City of Brotherly Love.