The 76ers' James Harden, center, goes up for a shot...

The 76ers' James Harden, center, goes up for a shot against the Knicks' Obi Toppin, left, and Jericho Sims during the second half of an NBA game Wednesday in Philadelphia. Credit: AP/Matt Slocum

PHILADELPHIA — The game was just a few minutes old, the ringing in ears from the raucous introduction of James Harden for his home debut for the 76ers barely fading, when a fan not far from the court shouted at Harden, "Shoot it, Harden. Get the record."

The record — Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point night against the Knicks 60 years ago to the day — might seem unbreakable, but with Harden’s arrival the sold-out crowd at Wells Fargo Center seemed to believe anything was possible.

But it was only a few minutes later that the same fan shouted, "What are you guys doing?" Not only was no one in their new two-star system threatening any of Chamberlain’s records, but they found themselves trailing the Knicks by 16. It didn’t take long though for at least the score to right itself as the 76ers easily recovered and pulled away for a 123-108 win over the Knicks, satisfying the loud crowd that got its first look at this group.

"It was a movie," Harden said on the court after his third game since being dealt from Brooklyn. "Everything I expected it to be."

For the Knicks though it was all too familiar. There was no deadline deal to save them and now they have lost six straight and 16 of 19, falling to 25-37 on the season with this the first stop on a seven-game road trip.

While the 76ers were celebrating the anniversary of Chamberlain’s heroics and imagining all sorts of historical moments they believe they can craft with Harden and Joel Embiid together, the Knicks goals are simpler. Small victories — they didn’t give up 100 points to any of the 76ers.

"I feel like as a team there [could] be a lack of confidence in general, maybe," Julius Randle said. "The league is tough. It’s tough to win games. It’s really hard. When you start losing a few in a row, it kind of kills the team spirit. I personally maybe need to do something to inspire our game, give words of encouragement. But it’s hard. It’s a really hard league. That’s why winning is so precious. We got to find a way to get one."

The 76ers methodically took control, turning a 16-point deficit into a 16-point lead. Finally, with 1:42 left Harden fired a long pass to Matisse Thybulle at the rim and as he dropped it through Harden just turned to the crowd and raised his arms, imploring them to cheer and they obliged, celebrating a finishing touch.

The Knicks built a lead of as many as 16 in the first half, not trailing once, as RJ Barrett poured in 19 of his 30 points and Randle added 16 of his 24. Even then though every bucket seemed like a battle, the Knicks finishing with just 20 assists — maintaining their place at the bottom of the NBA rankings in assists as they play without a true point guard.

"That’s the best we have," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "So that’s what we’re doing, and they’re capable."

Embiid led Philadelphia with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Harden scored 26 and Tyrese Maxey added 25.

Harden’s first points as a home player for the 76ers came more than midway through the first quarter, plowing his way to the rim to drop in a layup and draw a foul on Jericho Sims. The next trip down he hit a three-point field goal and by the time the half was over he had piled up 19 points with five rebounds and three assists.

Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers has had this sort of talent before, winning an NBA title in Boston when the team united Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and they fit together quickly. Thibodeau was an assistant on that staff and believes that will help Rivers craft this group even with this late-season addition.

"I think all his experiences," Thibodeau said. "The Boston experience for him it was masterful. We had three guys that were coming off lottery seasons and there was great urgency because of the way everything was. They were older and there wasn’t a wait period, like OK we’re going to grow into this. We knew there was urgency to get it done right away. And he was great with that. I think when he went to the Clippers that was a different challenge. I think that experience will help him, too. I think both experiences and sometimes it’s timing. And I think there’s good timing here because of where Joel is in his career and where James is in his career. I think they’re going to have really good chemistry, they’re going to be a load to deal with."

Up 62-55 at the half, it took the Knicks less than a minute to see the lead down to one and Thibodeau scrambling for a timeout. Embiid converted inside for a three-point play and after Thybulle blocked a Barrett shot, Barrett recovered the ball, but Thybulle knocked it out of bounds off Barrett. And on the other end Embiid buried a three.

The 76ers missed two chances to take their first lead and Mitchell Robinson slammed in a lob from Barrett. After another 76ers turnover Barrett drained a three and the lead was back to 67-61. But Philadelphia kept coming and with 5:56 left in the third Harden hit a pair of free throws for the Knicks first deficit.

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