Two games into a season the Knicks believe will last into June, they're passing the ball and playing defense the way contenders do.

The result is the Knicks are 2-0 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, the last time they won a playoff series.

The Knicks followed up Friday night's 20-point win over the Heat with a 100-84 victory over the 76ers yesterday afternoon at the Garden.

The complete team effort featured the Knicks shooting 50.6 percent overall, including 11-for-27 from three-point range, and allowing the same point total they gave up against Miami. In the first two games, the Knicks have trailed once -- 2-0 Sunday.

"With the experience that we have in this locker room, it doesn't take long to understand how to play the game," Jason Kidd said after playing a terrific floor game and finishing with 12 points, six assists and three steals. "That's what we have here, guys who know how to play the game, understand their roles, and they're doing it well."

Carmelo Anthony shot 10-for-18 and scored 27 points. He also played inspired defense and leaped over Philadelphia's bench to save a shot he blocked.

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J.R. Smith came to life in the second half, scoring 13 of his 20 points after Mike Woodson said he "was yelling at him to shoot the ball."

That's usually not what Smith is yelled at for, but he didn't disappoint his coach.

After the Knicks' 16-point cushion was cut to 75-66 after three quarters, Smith accounted for their first three field goals in the fourth -- all three-pointers. His third one put the Knicks up 86-69 with 8:23 left.

"I shot a few bad shots and I started hearing a few boos from the crowd, so that kind of messed with my head a little bit," Smith said. "But he tells me to keep shooting, I've got to keep shooting."

Jrue Holiday had 27 points and Thaddeus Young 16 for the 76ers. The teams will face each other again Monday night in Philadelphia to complete this back-to-back home-and-home set, and the Knicks will go for their first 3-0 start since 1994-95.

The atmosphere wasn't the same as it was Friday night for the first professional sporting event in New York since superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the metropolitan area. And in the recent past, the Knicks haven't always come out with the requisite energy in early afternoon games. But that wasn't a problem Sunday, and Woodson didn't expect it to be.

"Our team is playing for something this year," he said. "Not that they didn't last year -- we were playing for something as well. But it's important when you step out on the floor at home that you set the stage, dictate tempo."

The Knicks did that, building a 57-44 halftime lead by moving the ball and defending.

The first half ended with Kidd stealing an entry pass and feeding Anthony for a breakaway layup. Kidd had five of the Knicks' 12 first-half assists.

"I've always felt that when you defend and multiple guys touch the ball, you got a chance to win no matter who's out on the floor," Kidd said.

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After the 76ers drew within 61-53 with 7:27 left in the third, Kidd led a 10-2 run with five points. He also fed Kurt Thomas inside for a layup that resulted in a three-point play and a 71-55 lead.

"We've got guys that can make plays off the dribble and get guys shots," Woodson said. "The fact we have so many guys who can make shots, you don't know who's going to get you on any given night. I think it's fantastic that we're passing the ball. We've got to continue to do that."