"Like I said before, it's going to take me a while," Collins said. "That's not an excuse. It's just going to take me a little while to make sure I get the right guys out there."
For most of the afternoon, the Sixers (1-1) played like people at a large company meeting who needed name tags on lapels to identify one another. They committed 18 turnovers - last year they turned the ball over just 11.2 times per game. They also had trouble identifying when to double-team New York's Carmelo Anthony (27 points) and when to jump out and defend the Knicks' perimeter snipers.
New York made 50.6 percent of its shots and sank 11 three-point baskets on 27 attempts.
Making Collins' job more difficult, at least for Monday's rematch with the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center, is the loss of shooting guard Jason Richardson. While attempting a layup less than two minutes into the game, Richardson suffered a sprained ankle when he landed on a cameraman's foot along the baseline. X-rays were negative.
"That makes it hard, because he's one of our premier players," Sixers forward Thaddeus Young said. "We are all going to have to step it up until J-Rich gets back."
Swingman Nick Young, acquired over the summer as a free agent, is likely to move into a starting role until Richardson is ready to return. Young scored five points on 2-for-10 shooting while playing almost 32 minutes. Richardson, wearing a walking boot after the game, said his status was day-to-day.
Point guard Jrue Holiday finished with 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting (including 5 for 6 from three-point range) and had seven assists. He also had blemishes, finishing with a game-high six turnovers.
"It will come in time," Holiday said. "We'll get things corrected."
The Sixers' only lead was 2-0. Leading by 42-37 late in the second quarter, New York closed the half on a 15-7 run that produced a 57-44 halftime advantage.
But the most damaging stretch for the Sixers came at the start of the fourth quarter. With New York holding a 75-66 lead at the start of the period, J.R. Smith opened the quarter by drilling back-to-back threes that forced Collins to call a timeout.
From then on, the Sixers could not cut the New York lead to single digits again.
Contact John N. Mitchell at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.