With the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed wrapped up, the New York Knicks have nothing of consequence to accomplish until the postseason.
They may be treating Monday's visit to Charlotte like it's the preseason.
Carmelo Anthony is expected to rest, and he won't be the only Knick getting a breather as New York looks for a sixth straight win over the league-worst Bobcats.
The Knicks (53-27) clinched the East's second spot Sunday with a win over the team right behind them, forcing 26 turnovers and beating Indiana 90-80 to set up a playoff series with seventh-seeded Boston.
With its first-round fate determined, New York - still without big men Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, Amare Stoudemire, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby - is ready to get some rest.
"I always said today was a real important game for us to come in and lock down (the No. 2 seed)," said Anthony, who had a game-high 25 points but didn't play in the fourth quarter after bruising his left shoulder in the third. "It was a big game for us so now guys can get their rest, I can get my rest and come back full speed ready for the playoffs."
Anthony almost certainly won't play Monday and could also sit out Wednesday's home finale against Atlanta, and not taking the court again would essentially give him the scoring title. He's averaging 28.656 points while Kevin Durant is at 28.137.
Assuming Durant plays the final two games and Anthony sits, Oklahoma City's star would need to total 99 points against Sacramento and Milwaukee to win his fourth straight scoring title.
With nearly every big man on the roster ailing, the Knicks started recently signed Solomon Jones at center on Sunday after starting Chris Copeland the previous two games. Martin and Chandler won't travel to Charlotte and Camby also likely won't play, but Wallace could return to get some minutes either Monday or Wednesday.
"We gotta get some healthy bodies back. And then we'll have Thursday and Friday to prepare for the playoffs," coach Mike Woodson said. "As coaches, we'll start our preparation when we get back from Charlotte and once we get some healthy bodies back on Thursday, we'll start practicing and see where we are and who can be in the rotation once we start the playoffs."
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