The Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire and Landry Fields combined for 66 points as they led the New York to a 117-103 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden.
The two teams were less than 48 hours removed from their spirited contest on Friday night, a 100-98 Sixers victory at the Wells Fargo Center. Down by 9 entering the 4th quarter, the 76ers ripped off a 23-4 run as the Knicks appeared to come apart at the seams.
Elton Brand had his best game as a Sixer with 33 points and 17 rebounds. Andre Iguodala, in his new "point-forward" role, was nearly flawless with 18 points, 16 assists and no turnovers.
In response, Knicks' coach Mike D'Antoni tweaked his starting lineup prior to Sunday's game, with Timofey Mozgov getting the start in place of Shawne Williams, who leads the NBA in three-point shooting at nearly 51 percent.
In the 7-1 Mozgov, New York began the game with two skilled bigs - Stoudemire being the other - to deal with Brand. The move was one of the key factors in the Knicks' domination of the glass on Sunday, outrebounding the Sixers 39-28 for the game.
The Knicks shot 59 percent in the first quarter (13-for-22) to grab an early 31-22 lead after the first 12 minutes. Andre Iguodala got into early foul trouble, picking up his second less than three minutes into the game.
The two teams traded blows in the second quarter, and the Knicks went into the locker room up by 4 at the half, 55-51. Given the fact that the Sixers' starting backcourt - Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks - was a combined 1-for-8 for 3 points in the first half, Doug Collins's team was fortunate to be as close as they were.
Most of the third quarter was dominated by the Knicks, who had the Sixers on the ropes with a 15-point lead with 5:17 left in the 3rd quarter. However, Philadelphia quickly responded, going on a 16-4 run to cut the New York lead to three, 83-80.
It was as close as the Sixers would get for the rest of the game.
Brand and Stoudemire went toe-to-toe for much of the final quarter, with the Knicks' forward having his way most of the time. On Sunday, Stoudemire tied his season-high with 41 points, finishing an impressive 17-for-21 from the field.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, the Knicks' Landry Fields was on fire all afternoon, scoring 23 points and pulling down 10 rebounds on 10-for-13 shooting. His five threes led New York, who finished 11-for-27 (41 percent) beyond the arc.
"They hit us with 11 threes today," said Collins after the game. "And when they get double-digit threes, they're going to be very tough to beat."
Brand followed up his strong showing two nights ago with 28 points and 5 rebounds. The Sixers' reserves even contributed their usual effort, finishing with 45 points, led by Thaddeus Young's 19 points off of the bench.
Plain and simple, the problem on Sunday was the defense. Or, more specifically, the lack of it.
New York finished the game shooting nearly 60 percent (46-for-77) from the field, with six of the eight players who saw action finishing in double figures. The Sixers are now 1-16 on the season when giving up 100 points or more.
With the loss, the Sixers' record fell to 23-27. And with the weekend being a wash, they once again trail the Knicks by three games for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference.
So while this is clearly an improved team from the one that started the season, they'll have to learn from frustrating losses like these in order to make the next step in their evolution.
"The big thing is, you don't let the frustration lead to where it gets you down," said Collins. "That's the key for us - we're not going to let that happen."