Carmelo Anthony was the first one to hear boos, a smattering of them during introductions. In the third quarter, all the Knicks were booed.
What Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire didn't hear was their names called in the fourth quarter. D'Antoni sat them for the entire quarter as the Knicks tried to erase a 21-point deficit. But once again they dug themselves too big a hole and lost their fifth straight game, dropping to 18-23. They are 3-8 since the seven-game winning streak that was fueled by the emergence of Jeremy Lin.
"Playing out there is not fun," Anthony said. "There's no type of confidence out there when we get down. It seems like our whole energy goes out the door. We got to find a way to get it done right now. It's coming down to the end of the season. Our backs are against the wall and we got to figure it out."
The Knicks apparently used up all of their energy talking about playing with a sense of urgency. When it came time to show that urgency, the Knicks showed some of the same things that have been omnipresent during this skid -- poor defense, sloppiness with the basketball and some sulking.
"We hit a snag and we seemed to wither, and for whatever reason, we haven't overcome any kind of obstacles," D'Antoni said. "It seemed like we were down two and the world was caving in."
The return of Tyson Chandler from a two-game respite to rest his strained left hamstring didn't have the impact the Knicks hoped for on defense or overall. They fell behind by at least 15 points for the seventh straight game.
Both troubling streaks could continue Monday night in Chicago.
"Everybody has to take a step back and understand what they need to contribute to the team and try and do that," Chandler said.
"We have to force the chemistry at this point," Baron Davis said. "It's got to be a lot of sacrifice that takes place."
The Atlantic Division-leading 76ers took control with a 38-point third quarter and led 89-73 entering the fourth. They pulled ahead 98-77 with 8:55 left. Although the Knicks closed to within 10 with 1:20 left and Anthony and Stoudemire on the bench, the Sixers never were seriously threatened.
Anthony scored 22 points and shot 5-for-13. Lin had 14 points and seven assists but missed 13 of 18 shots and committed six turnovers. Stoudemire had a quiet game (nine points, five rebounds) and played with little effort defensively.
Both All-Stars said they weren't upset that they didn't play in the fourth. The way the Knicks are playing and approaching these games, they have bigger problems than that.
"Collectively, our spirit's not good," D'Antoni said. "Collectively, our defense is not very good at all. Collectively, we just didn't do what we were supposed to do. And we've got to solve that somehow."
"I think we could have put up a better fight," Stoudemire said. "We've got to do a better job of knowing the importance of games."
They outworked and outhustled the Knicks, turning 18 turnovers into 17 points and beating the Knicks down the floor.
"That just sucked the whole energy out of the basketball court," Anthony said. "We can't have that. Regardless of what's being said in the stands, boos or whatever, we got to block that out. We got to play basketball."