Knicks fans now have a new enemy

Joel Embiid said his family wasn’t around for Christmas. So maybe that’s why he decided to play Grinch and steal the Knicks’ holiday spirit.

This was supposed to be a nationally televised celebration of all the progress the Knicks have made this season, especially at the Garden, where they have been rather dominant — at least until Monday.

Thanks to Embiid’s inside muscle and a timely 3-pointer, the Sixers, who had lost five straight and nine of their previous 10 games, earned a rather stunning 105-98 triumph at the Garden. The only thing jolly about all this was Embiid’s attitude after claiming a win in his first Christmas Day appearance.

“That was my first time playing in the Garden, and when I go on the road I love putting on a show,” Embiid said after shooting 8-of-17 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. He also had 16 rebounds. “I felt like we had a lot of fun tonight.”

This playing on Christmas Day stuff is a nuisance to Sixers veteran guard J.J. Redick.

“I’d like to say for about the 10th time that I’m not a fan of playing on Christmas,” Redick said. “I wish we had this holiday for our families.”

Bah humbug!

Embiid, however, couldn’t wait to get on the Garden floor. It was just his second game back after missing three due to back stiffness, and playing against the Knicks seemed like the best present Embiid could have gotten.

“I was so excited to play tonight,” he said. “We’ve been through so much losing, to be able to be one of the few teams that play on this day shows how much we have improved. I was glad to be in this position.”

Knicks center Enes Kanter thanked the crowd before the game for showing up for the holiday matinee, and then played as if he were going to single-handedly get the win, finishing with 31 points and 22 rebounds. At times it looked like a heavyweight fight in sneakers the way he and the 7-foot Embiid battled under the glass. When Kanter (6-11) needed help, Kristaps Porzingis (7-3) was usually close by.

“Kanter’s got a big body and knows how to get in position especially for offensive rebounds,” Embiid said. “He got a lot of tips; credit to him. He worked really hard. It was a good fight down there. I’m sure I was tough for them to handle. They were tough for me, too.”

Porzingis agreed.

“It’s hard to stop [Embiid],” he said. “It’s hard to stop a player like that. You just do what you can and you try to put him in situations that he doesn’t like. But it’s hard to deal with a player like that.”

Yet, with all the physical play inside, it was an open 3-pointer from the corner by Embiid with 2:25 remaining that gave the Sixers a 101-93 lead and control of the final minutes.

“I always like to think that I’m clutch,” Embiid said. “So it felt good.”

Good enough to gesture his satisfaction to a Garden crowd that wasn’t as vocal as he expected. That’s because each time the Knicks threatened to make a serious run late in the game, Embiid or Redick (24 points) would drain a bucket to silence the Garden.

“I thought the crowd was kind of quiet,” Embiid said. “I heard it was always loud. I wish it was louder than that.”

It was loud with boos when Knicks guard Jarrett Jack was called for a flagrant foul after he put a Charles Oakley body block on a driving Embiid with 10:04 left in the third quarter and the score tied at 52. It was old-school basketball.

“I felt he wasn’t going for the ball,” Embiid said. “He was going for my body. I have to protect my body. I felt like it was kind of a dirty play. But I’m not worried about it. It’s basketball.”

Embiid will grow into one of those opponents Knicks fans will love to hate. He’s already the Grinch who stole their Christmas.