Carmelo Anthony leaped into the second row trying to save a ball he'd batted away, the signature play in another sturdy defensive effort as the Kicks beat the 76ers 100-84 at Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon.
On the other end, extra passes led to more wide-open shots and the Knicks made it look as easy as they did two nights earlier against the defending NBA champions.
Add it up, and New York is perfect after two games for the first time in 13 years.
Anthony scored 27 points, JR Smith had 20 and the Knicks beat the Sixers in the opener of home-and-home series.
“I think at the end of the day, we know what type of guys we have on this team, we know what's at stake and we want to win,” Anthony said. “That's the only thing that's on our minds.”
Jason Kidd had 12 points and six assists, and Raymond Felton added 11 points for the Knicks (2-0), who followed their 19 3-pointers in a season-opening victory over Miami by making 11 Sunday. They have won their two games by a combined 36 points and are 2-0 for the first time since winning their first three games in the 1999-00 season.
“I think when you share the basketball it becomes contagious, and guys, they feed into it,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “And the fact that we have so many guys that can make shots, you don't know who's going to get you on any given night.”
Jrue Holiday had 27 points and seven assists for the 76ers (1-1), who will try for a split Monday at home. Thaddeus Young scored 16 points before fouling out and Evan Turner had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams are missing high-priced big men because of knee problems. But while center Andrew Bynum's absence could have a big effect on the 76ers, the Knicks have so far shown that they can perhaps space the floor better using a smaller lineup without forward Amare Stoudemire.
With Anthony moving up to the power forward position, Felton playing alongside Kidd in a two point-guard backcourt, and Smith and Steve Novak coming off the bench, the Knicks have had a solid offensive flow in their two games.
They scored 104 points against Miami on Friday while finishing one 3-pointer shy of their franchise record, and hurt the 76ers from inside and out.
“They're very tough to defend. They're playing really good defense,” Doug Collins said after his team was held to 43-percent shooting. “It's a very difficult team to play because they can post or they can spread you and they really move the ball really well. They're playing very unselfish basketball.”
Philadelphia held Denver to 37.5 percent shooting in an 84-75 victory in its season opener, but its defense wasn't nearly as effective in this one. The 76ers were a step slow in transition and in their rotations, giving up way too many open shots, and hurt themselves with 18 turnovers.
“I think we turned the ball over too much and we were definitely out of sync,” Young said.
The Knicks led for most of the first quarter, getting nine points each from Anthony and Felton en route to a 31-25 lead. They pushed it into double digits in the second and never let the 76ers put much of a dent in it, extending it to 71-55 with 4:25 left in the third on a combined 79-year-old hookup. Kidd, 39, rifled a pass inside to 40-year-old Kurt Thomas, the NBA's oldest player, who scored and was fouled.
“The experience that we have on this locker room, it doesn't take long to understand how to play the game and that's what we have here,” Kidd said, “is guys who know how to play the game and understanding their roles and doing it well.”
Philadelphia finally got it down to nine at the end of three, but Smith hit consecutive 3-pointers to push it back to 15, and he made another to give the Knicks their largest lead at 86-69 with 8:23 to play.
The Knicks cruised from there, even getting a basket from Rasheed Wallace, back in the NBA at 38 after two years of retirement.
Anthony, one of the NBA's elite scorers but not known for doing much else, was active defensively, even leaping over a row of chairs trying to save a ball he'd knocked free in the first quarter. He said he knew where he was going to land so wasn't worried about injury, but his teammates were impressed anyway.
“It's really contagious when you see your star player going out there, diving in the crowd, giving up open shots, going for loose balls. It really filters throughout the team,” Smith said. “So as long as he keeps doing it, I think everybody won't have a problem doing it.”
The 76ers also lost starting guard Jason Richardson less than two minutes in when he sprained his left ankle after stepping on a camera man behind the baseline. X-rays were negative but he won't play Monday.