Hawks-Knicks Preview

The Associated Press

Despite Carmelo Anthony's efforts, the New York Knicks are on the verge of their worst stretch at Madison Square Garden since his arrival.

They might be happy about the next opponent coming to town.

The Atlanta Hawks have dropped their last five games against them and are one of only two teams in the past two-plus weeks to lose to the Knicks, who will try to avoid a fifth consecutive home loss Saturday night.

Anthony is coming off the highest-scoring performance by any NBA player this season, but his 45 points Thursday weren't enough for New York to end its home woes as Houston emerged with a 109-106 victory.

"We just gotta get over this hump here at home, figure it out and move on," said Anthony, averaging 28.8 points and 10.0 rebounds during the four-game skid at MSG.

"... Another one bites the dust. We gotta move forward and keep getting better and staying together, that's the most important thing."

The Knicks (3-5) haven't lost five straight home games since dropping six in a row Feb. 5-27, 2010, a year before they acquired Anthony. Poor defense has been a big reason for this skid in Manhattan, allowing an average of 110.0 points.

"We've let four games in a row at home get away, that's something we hadn't done since I've been here," said Mike Woodson, in his third season as New York's coach. "That's kind of frustrating from a coach's standpoint, but we're still learning each other and trying to figure it out, and we will eventually."

His team's only home victory was the season opener against Milwaukee. The Knicks' only wins since that one came in Charlotte and Atlanta, where the Knicks picked up their most recent victory.

Anthony had 25 points in that 95-91 win Wednesday and is averaging 36.4 in his last five matchups with the Hawks. Andrea Bargnani added 20 points in that victory as part of a four-game stretch during which he's averaging 21.3.

New York has won five straight and eight of nine over Atlanta, including four in a row at MSG. The Hawks are 5-20 there during the new millennium.

Atlanta (5-4) won for the third time in four games overall with a 113-103 home victory over Philadelphia on Friday.

Jeff Teague had a career-high 33 points and passed Al Horford for the team scoring lead with 19.8 per game, more than double his career average. Teague also had 10 assists Friday and is tied for second in the league with 9.9 per game.

"I think the message throughout preseason and training was that when he's aggressive, something good is going to happen," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "We just keep hammering that to him. ... When he's putting pressure on the defense, good things happen for us."

Lou Williams played for the first time since reconstructive knee surgery 10 months ago, contributing seven points, but will sit out Saturday because Budenholzer said he won't play on consecutive nights.

Budenholzer moved Paul Millsap to a reserve role but couldn't get the veteran forward out of his slump. He had eight points in 29 minutes after totaling 15 on 5-of-16 shooting in the previous two games. Prior to that stretch, Millsap had posted three straight double-doubles while averaging 24.0 points.

It's unclear if Woodson will start J.R. Smith for a third straight game. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year, fined $25,000 by the NBA on Friday for a Twitter exchange with Detroit's Brandon Jennings, is shooting 25.7 percent in three games after missing the season's first five for a league suspension.