Exactly one year ago, the New York Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony in the hopes that he could revive a flagging franchise.
At least for the time being, Jeremy Lin and the phenomenon that is "Linsanity" is having a greater impact.
With the All-Star break looming, Anthony and Lin get another chance to form some chemistry as the Knicks face the sputtering - and potentially short-handed - Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
New York (16-17) felt it needed to acquire a bona fide superstar to turn the corner and become a factor in the Eastern Conference. That led the Knicks to land Anthony from Denver in a three-team, 13-player blockbuster trade Feb. 22, 2011.
Anthony helped New York reach the playoffs after a six-year absence, but the resulting good feelings and high hopes were tempered by an 8-15 start to 2011-12.
Lin has almost single-handedly changed that this month.
After he got released twice in December, the point guard has emerged from obscurity to average 24.6 points and 9.2 assists during an 8-2 run that has returned New York to playoff contention.
Anthony, who missed seven games of the current hot streak with a groin injury, is trying to prove he can coexist with Lin and allay growing fears that he may be a disruption.
He returned from the injury Monday but didn't provide a convincing answer to those fears, scoring 11 points as the Knicks fell 100-92 to New Jersey at MSG. Lin finished with 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
"We're not in panic mode, because it doesn't just work where all of sudden people show up and you have great chemistry," Lin said. "So we're going to have to work through some struggles, so as long as we're all committed and buying in, we'll be fine."
Anthony claims he's buying in.
"As far as identity we've had last couple weeks, it was there," Anthony said. "I don't think nothing is going to change. There's going to be an adjustment. New roles. New guys.
"I want Jeremy to have the ball. Hands down. I want him to create for me. I want him to create for Amar'e (Stoudemire). I want him to create for everybody and still be as aggressive as he's been over the past two weeks. I want that."
Anthony and Lin have two more chances to work together before the All-Star break. The Knicks visit Miami on Thursday after hosting Atlanta (19-13).
"We have to get this thing sorted," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We have to figure out the type of team, the identity we have to have."
Anthony is averaging 24.3 points in 14 career meetings with the Hawks, but had just 14 while dishing out seven assists and grabbing seven rebounds in a 92-79 win at Atlanta on March 6 in his only matchup since joining New York.
The Knicks and Hawks split four meetings last season, with each team winning once on the other's home court.
Atlanta has dropped seven of 10 overall and may be forced to play without Joe Johnson, who is doubtful because of tendinitis in his left knee. The All-Star, who leads the Hawks with 17.6 points per game, had 12 before exiting in the third quarter of Monday's 90-79 defeat at Chicago.
"Nobody is to blame, but everybody is to blame," coach Larry Drew said. "We all have to put ourselves in one foxhole and figure it out together."
Josh Smith, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds Monday, may carry a heavier load if Johnson can't go. Smith is averaging 20.0 points and 7.6 boards in his last seven visits to MSG.
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