Carmelo Anthony isn't ignoring the MVP chants he's been hearing lately, but he also realizes they're a bit premature given the New York Knicks have plenty of season remaining.
He sure didn't look like an MVP the last time he faced the Charlotte Bobcats.
New York faces a stretch of three road games in four nights and looks to get off to a good start by sending Charlotte to a fifth straight defeat Wednesday night.
Anthony scored 34 points to help lead the Knicks (12-4) to a 106-99 victory over Phoenix on Sunday, eliciting the chants from the home crowd. He's averaging 30.7 points over his last six, and his 26.6 per game average ranks among the NBA's best.
"If I said it doesn't feel good to hear, I'd be lying to you," Anthony said. "I'm just working, we're working as a team and as a result that's what you hear.
New York has won three straight after dropping three of its previous four.
"We're winning games and we're doing it in great fashion," Anthony said.
Anthony, though, had one of his worst performances as a professional the last time he faced the Bobcats, scoring a career-low one point while going 0 for 7 from the field. Despite his offensive woes, the Knicks still rolled to a 111-78 road win Jan. 24.
He and Tyson Chandler both sat out the most recent meeting April 26, when the Knicks won 104-84 for their third straight win over Charlotte.
Chandler, who spent the 2009-10 season with the Bobcats, had 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds Sunday for New York, which also has a showdown with Miami on Thursday before facing Chicago on Saturday.
"This is a tough road trip," Chandler said. "Having three games in four nights, we have to make sure we concentrate, focus, don't get ahead of ourselves and go game by game."
The Knicks received good news Tuesday when Raymond Felton said he will play despite suffering a bone bruise in his left hand Sunday, when he scored 23 points and added seven assists. Felton, selected fifth overall by Charlotte in the 2005 draft, averaged 13.3 points in five seasons with the Bobcats before beginning his first stint with the Knicks in 2010.
Jason Kidd also is expected to return after missing the last four games with back spasms to give the Knicks a healthy starting lineup against the Bobcats, who are hoping to bounce back after another tough loss.
Charlotte (7-9) blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead before falling 118-112 in overtime to Portland on Monday, its fourth straight defeat. Ben Gordon scored 29 points and hit eight 3-pointers off the bench, while Kemba Walker added 22 and seven assists.
''NBA games are long,'' Gordon said. ''I've seen a lot of crazy things happen and it's never really over until it's over. So, when you have that type of advantage on a team, you just have to keep your foot on their neck and try and put them away.''
Coach Mike Dunlap suggested the young Bobcats, whose last three defeats have come by six or fewer points, may not have been prepared well enough to hold that type of lead.
''It is unfamiliar territory,'' Dunlap said. ''I thought I could have done a better job helping them, for example with substitutions. So I sort of point the finger at me on that.''
New York has won seven of the last nine meetings.
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