NEW YORK (AP) — Even with a winless team coming to Madison Square Garden, there was no chance of the New York Knicks being overconfident.
“For us, right now, it’s not like we were playing great,” point guard Jose Calderon said.
They were good enough to beat Philadelphia.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, Amare Stoudemire added 16 points and 11 rebounds, and the Knicks dropped the 76ers to 0-13 with a 91-83 victory on Saturday night.
Calderon made his season debut for the Knicks (4-10), who had lost consecutive games but jumped out to a big early lead and had an easy time against a team that was every bit as bad as its record for most of the game.
“You don’t want to give a team like that no type of edge, no type of confidence, because when you do it can be a dangerous night for you,” Anthony said.
The 76ers are the first team to drop their first 13 games since the 2009-10 Nets lost 18 straight during the worst start in NBA history. The Sixers are nearing their franchise-worst start of 0-15 in 1972-73, when they finished 9-73 for the worst 82-game mark in league history.
They played hard to keep from getting blown out but couldn’t overcome three quarters of dismal shooting that had them trailing by as many as 21 points.
“We all are sticking together,” forward Nerlens Noel said. “We feel like we’re getting closer to our first win.”
Noel had the best night of his young career with season highs of 17 points and 12 rebounds.
“That was Nerlens’ best game. So everybody in Philadelphia is seeing what we’re seeing. It’s slow but it’s coming,” coach Brett Brown said.
Calderon finished with three points and three assists in 21 minutes. The Spanish veteran strained his right calf during a preseason game on Oct. 20, and the Knicks are hoping he can help the flow of their triangle offense.
New York was still without Andrea Bargnani, who was nearing a return from the strained right hamstring that has sidelined him all season when he strained his right calf in practice Friday.
The crowd was announced at 19,812, a sellout, but fans were largely silent during play, as if beating up on the dismal Sixers wasn’t worth cheering.
Philadelphia did manage to get it to 85-77 with under 2 minutes left, but Anthony made consecutive baskets.
76ers: Philadelphia trailed 25-13 after one. The 76ers had led at the start of the second quarter in three of the previous four games after not doing so once before then. … Michael Carter-Williams grabbed four rebounds after he was averaging 6.0. His 6.2 rebounds per game last season ranked second among NBA guards.
Knicks: New York played at home for the only time in a six-game span. The Knicks return to the Midwest for Thanksgiving week, visiting Houston, Dallas and Oklahoma City. … Second-year guard Shane Larkin, who had been starting at point guard during Calderon’s absence, didn’t play.
Noel was the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft but missed the entire season after tearing an ACL during his lone season at Kentucky. His potential is one of the reasons the Sixers are encouraged about their future. “I am really starting to feel like my legs are under me now,” he said. “(After) not playing basketball in so long, I am already starting to feel my timing is a lot better and I’m feeling a lot more confident.”
ELEMENT OF SURPRISE
Some of the 76ers are young and unknown, even to their opponents. Anthony said he knew most of them, though recent call-up Robert Covington from the NBA D-League was a bit of a mystery. “The kid Covington came in at the end, I’m looking at the sideline, I’m like, ‘Is he a shooter? How should we guard him?” Anthony said. “They’re like, ‘Just put a hand up.’ He came out and hit four 3s in a row.” Covington’s 14 points were a career high.
76ers: Host Portland on Monday.
Knicks: Visit Houston on Monday.
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