The New York Knicks will surely welcome Tyson Chandler back with open arms, even if the results without him couldn't have been any better.
With Chandler likely to return, the Knicks look to extend their longest win streak of the season Tuesday night when they visit the struggling Charlotte Bobcats.
New York's turnaround continued Monday with a 98-96 overtime victory over Phoenix, as Carmelo Anthony tallied 29 points and 16 rebounds. Raymond Felton added 19 points for the Knicks (15-22), who held the Suns without a field goal in OT en route to their fifth straight win and sixth in seven games.
The victory marked the team's first this season in a game decided by three points or fewer, after New York had dropped its first five of that variety.
''I think now as a team, I think mentally we're a different type of team,'' Anthony said. ''I think now we're starting to believe that when we do get down, we still have a chance to win the basketball game.''
Making the Knicks' run more impressive is the absence of Chandler, who has missed the last four games because of bronchitis and barely played at Dallas on Jan. 5 in the first game of the streak.
Chandler warmed up prior to Monday's game, but opted to rest again. If he does play, the team said it will be in a limited capacity. He hopes to return so he can get some minutes before facing Indiana center Roy Hibbert on Thursday.
Monday marked another strong defensive effort by New York, which has held opponents to 89.0 points during the five-game streak after yielding 103.8 per contest in the previous 10 contests.
That improved defense won't have the toughest of assignments against the Bobcats(15-23), who are averaging 95.0 points while losing eight of nine. Charlotte ranks near the bottom of the league, averaging 93.0 points per game and is scoring 90.7 during a three-game skid.
Charlotte is hoping to get a boost with the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who will be back in the starting lineup after missing 19 games with a broken left hand. Kidd-Gilchrist, fifth on the team with 9.1 points per game, likely will be asked to defend Anthony on Tuesday.
"My hand is doing well. I'm just ready to play now. I can't wait (for Tuesday), versus the Knicks. Can't wait." Kidd-Gilchrist said following a recent practice. "I'm out of rhythm a little bit, but that's usual. I just want to get on the court. Once I get on the court, I can help us win some games."
If the Bobcats are going to increase their scoring, and get back into the win column consistently, they will need more from center Al Jefferson. The veteran center is on pace for his lowest scoring output in seven years with a per game average of 16.8 points, and has the lowest field goal percentage of his career at 45.2 percent.
He's averaged only 11.3 points on 40.0 percent (16 for 40) from the field during the team's three-game skid. He did, however, score 20 in the team's most recent outing, a 103-97 loss at Chicago on Saturday.
Gerald Henderson had a season-high 30 points and Kemba Walker added 29 but Charlotte was outrebounded 46-34 and its bench was outscored 43-9 by Chicago's.
''Kemba and Gerald were great (on Saturday),'' Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. ''If we could score... like that every night it would be great."
The Knicks and Bobcats have split a pair of games this season, with each winning on the road in November. New York has won six of the last eight overall meetings, including four of five in Charlotte.