Orlando (47-26) at New York (35-38)

By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN, STATS Senior Writer Sunday, Mar 27, 2011 Tipoff: 7:30 pm EDT Mon Mar 28, 2011

The New York Knicks have matched their longest losing streak of the season at six. They’re probably playing the wrong opponent as they to try to end it.

Dwight Howard(notes) has dominated New York during the Orlando Magic’s six-game win streak in the series and he’ll be the focal point Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

New York (35-38) is mired in its third six-game slide as it tries to avoid its longest one since dropping eight in a row Feb. 5-23, 2010. The Knicks, however, remain secure for a playoff spot in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

“I’m not too concerned about that,” forward Carmelo Anthony(notes) said about missing the playoffs. “We’ve gotta win a couple of games, the playoffs will be there. For the most part, I’m just worrying about everyone getting on the same page before that playoff run starts.”

The immediate concern Monday will be trying to slow down Howard, who’s averaging 25.8 points on 67.1 percent shooting and 14.0 rebounds during Orlando’s six-game win streak over New York. He’s been dominant in two meetings since the Knicks acquired Anthony and Chauncey Billups(notes), taking advantage of a smaller New York frontcourt to average 31.5 points and 13.5 rebounds.

That includes Wednesday’s 111-99 victory at MSG. Howard had 33 points and 11 boards, and helped limit Amare Stoudemire(notes) to a season-low 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting.

Howard had plenty of sympathy afterward for Stoudemire, who went 7-0 at home against Orlando while with Phoenix.

“Right now, I understand that team is under a lot of pressure, and sometimes a guy like Amare, he wants to do as much as he can to bring the team out,” Howard said. “I encourage him to stay patient and stick with it.”

Stoudemire is averaging 19.3 points on 41.1 percent shooting during this skid. He made 4 of 13 shots for 14 points while Anthony had 36 in Saturday’s 114-106 loss at Charlotte.

It’s clear that the superstars are having trouble coexisting, although Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni believes his team’s problems can be solved.

“There is a little anxiety and there is a little ‘oh my gosh,’” D’Antoni said. “But I think the locker room’s great and I think they know where we are, they realize the situation. And Monday we got Orlando to rectify it. We still have our goals of making the playoffs and doing something in the playoffs.”

The Knicks will catch a break if Jameer Nelson(notes) is unavailable for Orlando (47-26). Nelson didn’t return for the second half of Friday’s 95-85 win over New Jersey after spraining his left knee.

“Hopefully he’s OK because I saw what happened and it looked kind of bad,” Howard told the Magic’s official website. “He was walking OK (after the game). He’s getting old and the older you get, the harder it is to recover from minor injuries.”

Nelson is averaging 18.3 points on 56.8 percent shooting while helping Orlando go 3-0 against New York this season.

The Magic have won five straight overall as they close in on home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Howard is shooting 69.5 percent and averaging 25.8 points and 16.4 boards in this run.

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Monday, Mar 28