Displeased with their efforts, the injury-plagued New York Knicks can make up some ground this weekend.
Having Carmelo Anthony in uniform would surely help their cause.
Anthony is uncertain to be available again as the Knicks open a home-and-home set against the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
After averaging 100.0 points and winning the division last season, New York (9-19) has taken several big steps back in 2013-14. The Knicks have managed 94.9 points per game - sixth-worst in the league - and are in third place, three games behind Toronto (11-15).
"We got to get better," center Tyson Chandler said. "The first thing we have to do is individually, we have to take accountability. That's the only way we're going to turn this thing around."
New York will try to do just that in its first matchup of the season with the Raptors.
Knicks big man Andrea Bargnani, averaging just 8.3 points in the last three games, is set to face his former team for the first time. The No. 1 overall pick in 2006 spent the first seven years of his career with Toronto before getting shipped to New York this summer.
Former fan favorite Steve Novak, who was included in that trade, also returns to the Garden.
While these teams meet again Saturday in Toronto, the Knicks will first try to snap a three-game home losing streak. They're 4-11 at MSG after going 31-10 there last season.
"We got to seize the moment," Chandler said. "They're coming to our house, we got to feel good about playing in the Garden. The Garden is our home, and we got to embrace it. We got to give our fans a show, we got to give them something to cheer about. ... We got an opportunity that we got to take advantage of."
It remains to be seen, though, if Anthony will play. The six-time All-Star, averaging 26.3 points to rank second in the NBA, missed a 123-94 home loss to Oklahoma City on Christmas Day due to a sprained left ankle.
Anthony is averaging 32.3 points in his last three games against the Raptors.
"If he says he's ready to go, then we'll put him in uniform and play him," coach Mike Woodson said.
Raymond Felton also sat out against the Thunder with a strained groin, leaving his status for Friday in doubt. Felton has played in just 17 games due to injury.
Amare Stoudemire had a season-high 22 points while rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. matched a season best with 21. J.R. Smith was the only starter to post double figures, scoring 20 on 8-of-22 shooting.
"Whether Melo plays or doesn't, Ray plays or doesn't, everybody has to make plays," Smith said. "It's not like we can forfeit just because they're not here. We got to play, and if we want to win, we got to play the right way."
While Toronto beat Dallas 109-108 in overtime last Friday and Oklahoma City 104-98 on Sunday, the Raptors fell 112-99 at San Antonio the next night. Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross had 23 points apiece but Toronto was outscored 52-36 in the paint and outrebounded 50-40.
"We're happy with it, we wanted to be greedy and get 3-0, but 2-1 against these three teams is pretty good, we'll take it," Lowry said.
Lowry averaged 21.7 points over that stretch, well above his season mark of 15.2.
The Raptors have dropped eight of 12 against the Knicks, including four of six in New York.
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