Carmelo Anthony remains a game-time decision as he continues to heal his sprained left ankle, but the New York Knicks will trudge on Wednesday night as they take on the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden.
The NBA’s second leading scorer has missed two straight games after twisting his ankle in the third quarter of New York’s 116-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers last week.
The 18-6 Knicks could’ve used Melo’s scoring touch Monday, when former Knick superstar point guard Jeremy Lin made his return to New York with the Houston Rockets.
Houston handed the Knicks their first home loss of the season, winning 109-96 behind Lin’s 22 points and eight assists, and James Harden’s 28 points and 10 rebounds.
New York also learned their proficiency beyond the arc can be their downfall. The Knicks shot 9-for-31 from 3-point range against Houston, and 43 percent overall.
Twenty-eight-year-old Knicks rookie Chris Copeland made his second start of the season, and netted a game-high 29 points, with center Tyson Chandler dominating the glass with 18 rebounds.
If Anthony sits again, Copeland will make his third consecutive start.
Despite the loss, New York still reigns atop the Eastern Conference, and can take a significant hold on the Atlantic division with a win over Brooklyn.
It will be the Nets’ first trip to the Garden since their move from New Jersey, and they will certainly try to avenge their late-game loss to the Knicks from a week ago.
New York erased a 17-point Brooklyn lead and prevailed 100-97 after former Net Jason Kidd nailed a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left and Anthony sizzled with 45 points. The loss only made December worse for Brooklyn, as they've gone 2-7 this month.
Tuesday night they led the Utah Jazz by 13 at halftime, but managed to scored just 33 points in the second half and fell 92-90. It was Brooklyn’s fifth loss in their last six home games.
Point guard Deron Willliams ended the game against his former team with 14 points and five assists. Now in his second full season with the Nets after Utah traded him in 2011, Williams’ production has dipped mightily and he pinned his struggles to head coach Avery Johnson’s isolation heavy system. Shooting 39 percent from the field, he's averaging 16.9 points per game, his lowest since 2007, and 8.1 assists.
Williams could still be adjusting to new teammate Joe Johnson, who is scoring 17.0 points a game, but like his point guard, is used to having the ball in his hands at all times. Though Johnson hasn't averaged more than 20 a game since 2010.
The Nets could turn things around against New York’s thin bench. Along with Anthony, Rasheed Wallace has a sore left foot, and hot shooting Steve Novak has a touch of the flu, according to New York Newsday.
Novak has appeared in all 24 games this season, and is hitting nearly 44 percent of his 3-pointers in 25 minutes per game.
Betting Odds: New York is favored by 5.5 points.
Over/Under: 194.5 points
Prediction: Brooklyn needs Williams and Johnson to come together as they have an excellent opportunity to take down the Knicks with Novak and possibly Anthony out. New York will need huge games from point guard Raymond Felton and from Chandler in order to win. Look for the Nets to snap out of their funk and win a very tight game.
Predicted Score: Brooklyn 95, New York 92