PHILADELPHIA — Individually, Kyle Lowry's debut with the Philadelphia 76ers was a success. The veteran guard showed exactly what he can bring to his new team.

Unfortunately, Lowry and the Sixers got beaten handily by the New York Knicks. They lost 110-96, cutting a 26-point deficit down to six before failing to keep up the momentum down the stretch. Aside from Tyrese Maxey's 35-point outing, Lowry's performance was the biggest highlight of the night for his team.

Lowry was greeted with a standing ovation when he checked into the game in the first quarter. His buckets and big plays drew loud cheers throughout the night. The good parts of the night were too good to ignore, though the result of the game didn’t stray from Lowry's mind.

“It was great. Unfortunate that 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,” Lowry said.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. That first hurrah is over. Now it's about going out there and helping his team win basketball games.”

In 25 minutes, Lowry recorded 11 points, five assists and four rebounds on 5-7 shooting from the field. He was the only member of the Sixers with a positive +/- with a +4 and was extremely valuable as a leader. Although he suffered a facial laceration midway through the game and received stitches — he said that he received “a nice little seven” as a nod to his jersey number — he displayed how his brand of tough, savvy basketball can benefit his hometown team. 

Kyle Lowry performs well in 76ers debut

Philadelphia 76ers guard Kyle Lowry (7) controls the ball against the New York Knicks during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In the second half and at the postgame podium, Kyle Lowry sported a big bandage taped over the left side of his forehead. He said that his head felt numb but didn’t suggest it was anything too serious. Such a profound display of toughness was not lost on his team and the fans who, after years of seeing him on rival teams that defeated the 76ers in the playoffs, were more than eager to root for him.

Tyrese Maxey said that Lowry was “big-time” in his communication and organization of the team. The veteran point guard was continually vocal in huddles and on the court, directing teammates each time down.

“We need that leadership,” Maxey said, “and it's gonna be good for us.”

Nick Nurse offered plenty of praise for Lowry, saying that he “does a lot of little things that are unique, especially for his position. He's obviously a really good screener. He was freeing up Tyrese quite a bit in some of that stuff. He's a good organizer. He was getting some things organized that were obviously getting us some buckets in the second half.”

Lowry returning to the game after needing stitches in his head didn’t surprise Nurse, either. “He's as tough as they come,” he said. Nurse also praised Lowry for playing so well in the tough circumstances of playing from behind the whole game and having not played in a month. 

For Lowry, returning to the game after getting injured was just part of the job. He explained that the opportunity to play for a Sixers organization he thinks highly of in his native city — plus the chance to compete against fellow Villanova products Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo — is not something to pass on.

“I go out there and do my job,” he said. “We get paid an awful lot of money to go out there and play basketball and be professionals. 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 — and especially doing it in front of some great fans and for a great organization and against great competition.”

It’s a good thing Lowry enjoys playing against the best because his tenure with the Sixers begins with matchups against four of the team's biggest threats in the Eastern Conference. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are up next on their docket. He said that it might take some time, perhaps a week or two, for him to learn his teammates' tendencies and strengths. Against teams like those, it will be an even bigger challenge.

The clock is ticking and the 76ers have to watch for teams hot on their tail in the standings. But working with what he called an “unbelievable” group with “great spirits” should make Lowry's introductory period with the Sixers hopeful and productive.