Riding a four-game losing streak and coming off a 24-point loss to the defending NBA champion Miami Heat the night before, the Philadelphia 76ers needed to find a spark any way they could.

Perhaps the team could get a boost from the return of Thad Young to the Sixers’ lineup? With some needed energy and an infusion of speed, Young found himself in the thick of things in his first game back from suffering a Grade I hamstring strain on Feb. 4 (see story).

And though Young pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, the Sixers’ forward couldn’t come up with the answer to stop All-Star Carmelo Anthony in the 99-93 loss to the Knicks (see Instant Replay).

Though Anthony shot just 6 for 16 from the field, committed five turnovers and was whistled for a bush-league flagrant foul-1 when he popped Sixers’ center Spencer Hawes in the back of the head for whatever crazy reason he had racing in his head, it was Anthony’s 29 points that proved the difference.

One has to wonder why Anthony was even in the game after the flagrant foul that came with 7:29 left into the third quarter and the Knicks leading by 14. Based on the replays and the explanation from the players after the game, it was nothing more than an unsolicited smack to the back of Hawes’ head.

Was there anything that Hawes to instigate?

“You can watch the tape and see what happened,” Hawes said. “I don’t usually go off like that, so the video doesn’t lie.”

So Hawes just got smacked in the head?

“Yeah,” Hawes said. “That’s my interpretation.”