After several weeks of rumors and speculation it was the New York Knicks, not the New Jersey Nets, who landed Carmelo Anthony(notes) 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(notes), 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(notes) 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(notes) 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.