Melo And Knicks Looking To Take Control In Divisional Race
(CBSNewYork/AP) – In a season full of memorable moments for Carmelo Anthony, he’s looking create another on Monday.
Anthony will be in the spotlight again in the Knicks’ annual Martin Luther King Day home game, with the rival Brooklyn Nets trying to move closer in the Atlantic Division race.
The Knicks star has scored at least 20 points in 25 straight games, the longest such streak of his career. Anthony has developed into an MVP candidate while lifting New York to possible championship contender status.
“I’ve been on some good teams, had good players on some of the teams that I’ve played with,” Anthony said. “But as far as being a complete team from top to bottom, this is the best team I’ve been a part of.”
In his first appearance with the Knicks on this holiday, Anthony scored 33 points but shot 9 of 27 in a 102-93 loss to Orlando last season. This will be the team’s 14th straight year playing on Martin Luther King Day, with New York going 18-7 at home.
Anthony has averaged 37.0 points in helping New York (25-13) go 2-1 against Brooklyn this season.
The Nets (24-16) are two games behind the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic, and are eager for this high-profile contest.
“It’s a great honor to play on this day,” reserve Jerry Stackhouse said. “We’re fortunate to play in a city where one of the pioneers of sports (who) kind of transcended sports played in Jackie Robinson. And now we get to honor a guy who kind of transcended the world in his belief in equality and things like that.”
Stackhouse has worn the number 42 in honor of Robinson throughout his career.
Brooklyn comes to Madison Square Garden with more confidence than it had in these teams’ last meeting, a 100-86 loss Dec. 19. Coach Avery Johnson was fired eight days later, so the Knicks will get their first look at a Nets team that’s 10-2 under P.J. Carlesimo.
“We’ve got to go in there with the mind-frame that we understand it’s going to be a hostile environment and some way, somehow we’ve got to come out of there on top,” Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson said. “They beat us the last two times and we owe them.”
Johnson has fared poorly against the Knicks this season, averaging 13.7 points and 37.5 percent shooting.
Point guard Raymond Felton started all three previous matchups for New York, but he’s out with a broken right pinky finger. Former Net Jason Kidd has taken his place in the starting lineup.
New York got a key player back in Thursday’s 102-87 victory over Detroit in London. Iman Shumpert made his season debut and had eight points after being out due to a torn ACL.
“We all know what he brings to the game,” Anthony said. “So it was just a matter of him just testing it out and seeing what he was able to do and we know he was excited, we were excited.”
The Nets begin a four-game trip after winning 94-89 over Atlanta on Friday behind Deron Williams’ 24 points and Reggie Evans’ 20 rebounds.
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