Knicks improve to 3-0 with blowout of 76ers

J.R. Smith dunks the ball during the first

J.R. Smith dunks the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia. (Nov. 5, 2012) (Credit: AP)

PHILADELPHIA -- The Knicks are far from a finished product, but they are opening eyes and perhaps even sending a message with their early-season play.

The exclamation point came on J.R. Smith's rousing tomahawk dunk in the fourth quarter that brought the Knicks' bench and many inside Wells Fargo Center to their feet.

The Knicks made it three straight blowouts to open the season as they trounced the 76ers, 110-88, Monday night. They are 3-0 for the first time since 1999-2000, and it's the first time they have won their first three games by double digits.

"As far as chemistry goes, we're just at the tip of the iceberg," Rasheed Wallace said. "That's one thing we actually were talking about at halftime. With the way we are, it's just a matter of veteran guys just knowing how to play basketball. It's only the third game of the season. Once we do jell together, then we're all like, 'Hey, we can be scary.' "

The Knicks don't play again until Friday, but they could be 5-0 by early next week. Their next two games are at home against Dallas without Dirk Nowitzki and at Orlando, which took a giant step back when it traded Dwight Howard.

Finishing a back-to-back home-and-home, the Knicks started sluggishly and fell behind 9-0 and 14-4. But they stormed back by playing with the defensive intensity, aggressiveness and confidence they showed in the first two games.

The Knicks had the lead by the end of the first quarter and never relinquished it. They outscored the 76ers 106-74 in the last 43:19 -- 55-40 in the second half -- and held them to 33.7-percent shooting overall.

Carmelo Anthony led seven Knicks in double figures with 21 points. Smith scored 17. Raymond Felton had 16 points and eight assists and Tyson Chandler, who is battling strep throat, had 14 points.

"When they went up and threw that early punch, we knew it was coming," Chandler said. "With every bucket, [Jason] Kidd, Melo, as we were running down the floor, I could hear both of them saying, 'Stick to the game plan. Stick to the game plan. Nobody get rattled.' We got comfortable and then kind of took over the game."

The Knicks are winning without needing Anthony to carry them. They're playing unselfishly and taking care of the ball; they had 24 assists to seven turnovers. They're working hard defensively, and their combined victory margin is 58 points.

The Knicks also are winning without key players Amar'e Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert and Marcus Camby, who should make his season debut Friday.

Wallace has just gotten in the rotation, but he might have shown he deserves to stay there with his play against the 76ers. The Philadelphia native scored eight of his 10 points in the third, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Knicks an 89-68 lead.

Said Mike Woodson: "We have a group of intelligent guys that know how to play and have been in a number of systems that all they have to do is give effort and push each other and we'll be just fine."

The Knicks showed some feistiness, too. Smith pushed Royal Ivey after they got tangled under the basket in the second quarter. Smith was whistled for a technical foul. Chandler was hit with a technical in the third after pushing Thaddeus Young.

Other than those instances, the Knicks showed tremendous composure and poise and coasted to another win.

"We're playing good basketball," Chandler said. "We're playing good and it's at a good time. We just got to continue to roll."

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