Nets-Knicks Preview

After several weeks of rumors and speculation it was the New

York Knicks, not the New Jersey Nets, who landed Carmelo Anthony at

the trade deadline.

Looking to win consecutive games for the first time in three

weeks Wednesday night, Anthony and the Knicks face the visiting

Nets for the first time since New York acquired the four-time

All-Star last month.

Anthony could have some added motivation facing the team that

tried to acquire him various times from Denver before the deadline,

but his main focus will be on trying to help the Knicks (36-38)

build on a 113-106 overtime win over Orlando on Monday that snapped

a six-game skid.

“We got that monkey off our back and now we focus on Wednesday’s

game, and now we need that same intensity,” said Anthony, who had

39 points with 10 rebounds Monday and has averaged 28.5 points his

last four games versus New Jersey.

The victory was the second in 11 games for the Knicks, who gave

up six players and have gone 8-12 since trading for Anthony. New

York is seventh in the Eastern Conference, two games behind

sixth-place Philadelphia.

“It was a tough (month) for us, but hopefully we can cap it off

against the Nets with a win,” said All-Star Amare Stoudemire, who

added 20 points and nine boards versus Orlando.

While Anthony is coming off his best effort in 20 games with New

York, the Knicks need Stoudemire to get going.

The veteran forward is averaging 25.5 points this season, but

has failed to score more than 16 in three of the last five

contests.

He had 35 and nine rebounds in New York’s 111-100 home win over

the Nets on Nov. 30. Stoudemire missed the Knicks’ 105-95 win at

New Jersey last month with a sprained toe.

While New York is looking to clinch the season series with the

Nets (23-50), it has struggled against sub-.500 teams of late. The

Knicks are 0-3 against Cleveland, which they host Sunday, and lost

to Detroit and twice each to Milwaukee and Indiana this month.

Coach Mike D’Antoni, however, believes Monday’s hard-fought

victory against the playoff-bound Magic should give his team a

much-needed lift.

“With efforts like (Monday’s), the team will come together and

we’ll be better for it,” he said.

The Knicks likely won’t need to be ready to face All-Star point

guard Deron Williams on Wednesday. After the Nets failed to land

Anthony, they acquired Williams from Utah but he could miss his

seventh straight game with a wrist injury.

New Jersey lost for the third straight time and seventh in eight

games, 112-87 to Houston on Tuesday. Brook Lopez scored 22 points

but New Jersey shot 41.6 percent and was held to fewer than 88

points for a third straight contest.

“I’m disappointed,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “We can’t

keep writing these off as bad games. I am a competitor. We expect

more. I don’t make excuses.”

Averaging a personal-best 19.7 points, Lopez scored a

season-high 36 at New York in November. He’s averaged 20.4 points

in five games at Madison Square Garden.