The Knicks came to the rivalry that really isn't a rivalry on the banks of the mighty Passaic — or on the west side of the Hudson if you must — without their primary ingredient, All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire, scratched because of a sprained right big toe. That should have tilted the court in the Nets' favor.

Instead, it worried the bejeezus out of Nets coach Avery Johnson.

"I was really concerned," Johnson said. "In a way, I wanted him to play because everything was geared around what he does."

So the Knicks showed that concern was justified. Sixteen times they showed it. Just about every Knick showed it.

The Knicks overcame Stoudemire's absence with a perimeter game that buried 16 3-pointers — yup, 16, as in a dozen plus fourent. Four different Knicks — including 21-point scorer Wilson Chandler, who started in Stoudemire's spot —made three triples, and the Knicks won for just the fifth time in 16 games with a 105-95 triumph at the Prudential Center, in which the first 18,711 sellout crowd of the season crowd was pro orange and blue.

"The crowd support was great. It was like a home game for us," said Stoudemire, rubbing it in just a tad more after the Knicks (27-26), averted dropping below .500 for the first time since falling to 8-9 on Nov. 27.

The lack of Stoudemire also sent Knicks point guard Raymond Felton into Knute Rockne mode. He got amped up and told his mates to step up — "Ray hinted at that a lot," Landry Fields said. They listened and back-burnered all the Carmelo Anthony rumors. No Amar'e, no problem for the Knicks. Big problem for the Nets.

"They were hot from three," Johnson said. "They lived and died with it, and they lived," Johnson said.

"We definitely missed an opportunity," said Devin Harris, who led the Nets with 22 points.