"I mean, we had a good preseason," said Sixers guard Royal Ivey. "Preseason doesn't count. It's a gauge of where we are as a team."
And where, precisely, is that?
"I think we're pretty good, with eight or nine new faces," said Ivey, who scored 12 points. "People know what their roles are. That's a good sign."
The contest was a microcosm of the challenges the Sixers face as they try to hone a crisp transition game while waiting for the return of injured big men Andrew Bynum and Kwame Brown.
Coach Doug Collins started Richardson and Ivey in the backcourt, Damien Wilkins and Thaddeus Young at forward, and Lavoy Allen in the middle. The Sixers romped to a 62-44 lead at intermission behind a slick transition game and a 7-for-14 effort from behind the three-point line.
"We have a bunch of shooters on the team," said guard Nick Young, who contributed nine points. "If somebody is double-teamed, somebody is open. We're looking real good right now."
But the flip side showed when Sixers guard Maalik Wayns went out for good with a bruised head in the second quarter - Collins wasn't sure of his status after the game - and the team's potential lack of ball-handlers took its toll in the second half.
That issue was highlighted as Collins sat guards Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner as well as forward Dorell Wright. Holiday was just getting a rest while Wright nursed a right quadriceps bruise and Turner rolled his ankle against Boston on Sunday.
The Knicks' pressure defense turned the game's flow into mush in the third, and without a dominant Plan B down low, the Sixers were on the wrong end of a 28-14 margin during that stretch. They nursed a 76-72 lead after three.
"They really started pushing up their level of defense,'' Collins said of the Knicks. "They got more physical defensively in the second half. But we made some shots to win the game.''
Those came in the form of a running jumper by Nick Young, a sideline jumper from Spencer Hawes, a lay-in by Thaddeus Young, and a technical foul shot by Nick Young that sent the 76ers ahead, 98-86, with 1:32 remaining.
"Aw, man, I don't want to jinx it,'' Nick Young said when asked how good his team can be with Bynum. "I can't wait to get back the big fella.''
Even though the Knicks were the visitors, the game was a homecoming for New York forward Carmelo Anthony. The former Syracuse star scored 23 points in front of a crowd of 8,831.
The game also had a historical significance that carried well beyond 2003, when Anthony led the Orange to the NCAA title.
The Sixers returned to the city where the franchise was born as the Syracuse Nationals and played there from 1946 to '63.
Hall of Fame center Dolph Schayes, who took the Nationals to the 1955 title, was in attendance Monday.