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Magic-Knicks Preview

AP - Sports

The injury bug may have hit the New York Knicks at the wrong time as they cling to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

With Amare Stoudemire out and Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony questionable to play Wednesday night, New York hosts the surging Orlando Magic, who have won seven of the last eight meetings.

Stoudemire will be out two to four weeks with a bulging disk in his back, and Lin may miss a second consecutive game with a sore left knee. Anthony scored a game-high 28 points in an 89-80 win over Milwaukee on Monday despite a strained right groin, but it's possible the injury could keep him out Wednesday.

Anthony said he felt the need to contribute more without Stoudemire and Lin, and he helped the Knicks (25-25) extend their slim lead over Milwaukee for the last playoff spot.

New York has won seven of eight since interim coach Mike Woodson took over March 14.

"I've just got to step my game up," Anthony said. "We've been winning. As far as scoring the basketball, we really haven't been needing that. It's been pretty much spread out but now with them two guys, there ain't no telling what's the situation with them. So it's just time for me to step my game up in all aspects."

The Knicks have averaged 87.8 points over their last four, but they've won three times while allowing 83.5 points per game in that stretch.

Woodson has helped New York transition from the run-and-gun offense of former coach Mike D'Antoni to a defensive focus, which he said is most important if the Knicks are to contend.

They are allowing an average of 86.0 points under Woodson compared to 96.5 under D'Antoni.

"There are going to be nights where we bust loose and make shots and put up big numbers," Woodson told the team's official website. "What has to be a given has to be our defense. We have to continue to defend and rebound. If we do that, we will put ourselves in position to win games."

New York will have its work cut out against an Orlando team that tied its season high for points in a 117-101 win over Toronto on Monday.

Ryan Anderson hit a career-high eight 3-pointers and finished with 28 points. He fell two points shy of the career-high 30 he scored in a 102-93 win at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 16, when he hit seven 3s.

Dwight Howard scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Monday for the Magic (32-18), who have won three straight.

"Dwight was dominant inside and they were leaving Ryan open on the perimeter so it was pretty easy to get shots," coach Stan Van Gundy said.

Anderson has hit an NBA-best 143 shots from 3-point range.

"That's amazing," Howard said. "I'm happy for him. We all love the way he's been playing."

Howard scored eight points in the first meeting with the Knicks, ending his string of nine straight double-doubles in the series, during which he averaged 25.4 points and 16.3 rebounds.

Anthony scored 33 points in that game and is averaging 28.6 points lifetime against the Magic - his best versus any team except the 29.9 he averaged against the Knicks while with Denver.

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