(AP) — A matchup with the Dallas Mavericks wouldn’t usually give the New York Knicks their best chance for a fourth straight win and their longest streak since acquiring Carmelo Anthony last month.
Anthony, though, had one of his best scoring performances earlier this season against the Mavericks, and he’ll try for a repeat while attempting to lead the Knicks to a rare win in the series Thursday night.
New York (34-29) earned a third consecutive victory Feb. 23 in Anthony’s first game following the trade from Denver, but was 2-3 over its next five before winning in Atlanta on Sunday.
The Knicks followed with an easy home victory over Utah the next evening, and Anthony’s 19-foot shot with 0.5 seconds remaining gave New York a 110-108 win in Memphis on Wednesday.
“It was one of them shots, that you know is going to go in,” Anthony said.
The forward also topped 30 points for the second straight contest with 31, and Amare Stoudemire added 26, giving him an average of 29.7 in six games this month. The victory and Philadelphia’s loss to Oklahoma City put New York 1 1/2 games ahead of the 76ers in the race for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks might need as much help as they can get from their two All-Stars in their next game as Dallas (46-18) has won 16 of 18 meetings. Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 11 rebounds in a 113-97 victory at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 2.
The Mavericks, though, had their nine-game home win streak over the Knicks snapped with a 128-94 drubbing last March. They’ll also have to face Anthony, who scored 42 points in a 121-120 victory for Denver on Feb. 10, and are hoping to have Shawn Marion available to help stop him.
The forward left Wednesday’s game in New Orleans after hurting his ribs on a flagrant foul by the Hornets’ Marco Belinelli. X-rays were negative on Marion, who said he was OK.
Dallas also played without Peja Stojakovic (back spasms) but got Tyson Chandler back from a sprained right ankle. The status of Stojakovic is unknown for Thursday as is that of Knicks guard Chauncey Billups, who has missed fifth straight games with a left quad injury
“When he’s ready, he’s ready,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Chandler scored 16 points and Nowitzki had 26 against New Orleans, but it was not enough in a 93-92 defeat. The Mavericks allowed eight unanswered points to end the game, including Jarrett Jack’s three free throws with 8.4 seconds left.
With Dallas leading by one, Jack was fouled by Jason Kidd while behind the 3-point line.
“The last two minutes we kind of did everything wrong,” Nowitzki said. “Just a bad, bad execution down the stretch.”
The Mavericks’ second loss in three games – following an 18-1 stretch – cut their lead on second place in the West to one-half game over the Los Angeles Lakers. Dallas had a season-high, nine-game home win streak snapped Sunday when Memphis’ Zach Randolph hit a 17-foot shot with 0.3 seconds left.
As perhaps expected, Nowitzki has led the way against New York, averaging 26.0 points over the last 18 matchups. The All-Star forward, though, has shot 30.8 percent (8 of 26) in his past two home meetings.
Stoudemire has averaged 29.5 points on 59.7 percent shooting in his last eight visits to Dallas.
Updated March 10, 2011
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