Knicks-Bulls Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Knicks may be without Carmelo Anthony again, so Raymond Felton looks to continue shaking off his own injury in an attempt to pick up the slack in his absence.

The Chicago Bulls are enjoying their best stretch of the season and could be facing the Eastern Conference leaders at an opportune time.

With Anthony's status unclear, the Knicks may need another big performance from Felton as they try to win in Chicago for only the fourth time in over 11 years Saturday night.

A cut on the middle finger of his left hand sidelined Anthony on Thursday in Miami, but New York (14-4) didn't miss its superstar, connecting on 18 3-pointers in an impressive 112-92 win.

The Knicks are on the cusp of matching their season-opening six-game winning streak, and Felton's recent play - especially versus the Heat - is a major reason why.

The point guard is averaging 22.3 points and 7.7 assists while hitting 11 of 24 from beyond the arc over the last three games. That includes a season-high 27 points on 10 of 20 from the field - including 6 of 10 from long range - while playing through a nagging hand injury Thursday.

"He's a tough kid," coach Mike Woodson said. "It's going to take a lot to sit him down. I thought he was hurt. He's got the hand, and I thought he got hit on it. He refused to come out, and he stood in there, stuck it out and was able to bring it home.

"You've got a key guy that goes down, and the other guys get an opportunity to play and step up and make plays."

Another strong game from Felton would surely help if Woodson opts to sit Anthony again ahead of a home meeting with Denver - the forward's former team - slated for Sunday.

Felton is scoring 17.2 points per game over his last five visits to Chicago (10-8), a venue the Knicks rarely find success.

The Bulls have won 18 of the past 21 against New York at the United Center, including both matchups last season.

They also enter this meeting as winners of four of five after losing four of the previous five.

Joakim Noah kept Chicago rolling Friday, posting career highs of 30 points and 23 rebounds as the team erased a 17-point, second-quarter deficit en route to a 108-104 victory at Detroit.

"It's crazy to have numbers like that," said Noah, who averaged 9.8 points and 8.3 boards in four games against the Knicks last season.

Noah, among the league leaders with 10.8 boards this season, is expected to get a heavy dose of Tyson Chandler in a matchup of two of the East's best rebounders. Chandler pulls down an average of 9.4 rebounds, and has 14.5 over the past four games.

Carlos Boozer - averaging 9.7 boards - should provide some help for Noah on the glass. The veteran forward made his presence felt in the scoring column Friday, getting 24 points - his second-highest total of the season - on 12 of 19 from the floor.

Boozer has averaged 15.7 points and 13.5 rebounds in his past six meetings with New York since joining Chicago as a free agent over two years ago.

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