Knicks-Hawks Preview


Coming off his lowest-scoring performance of the season, Carmelo Anthony will look to get back on track against an opponent he has dominated in recent meetings when the New York Knicks visit the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Anthony took just 10 shots and scored 16 points Sunday, and the Knicks (2-4) were out of sync on both ends of the floor during a 120-89 home loss to San Antonio.

Now they take on the Hawks, a team the reigning NBA scoring champion has scored 36, 39, 42 and 40 points against in his past four matchups while shooting 51.4 percent - including 14 of 23 from 3-point range.

Given how poorly his team played the last time it took the court, a big performance from Anthony would help turn things around.

"I'm not worried but we do have to figure it out," Anthony said. "Whatever it is we have to figure out quickly, but as far as being worried, I'm not worried about that."

New York has won four straight and seven of eight in the series, but topping the Hawks (4-3) may prove to be tougher this season than it was in years past. New coach Mike Budenholzer has the team rolling offensively, led by a pair of physical players up front.

The duo of Al Horford and Paul Millsap have dominated the paint early in the season, with both averaging more than 18 points and seven rebounds. With Knicks starting center Tyson Chandler sidelined because of a broken leg, the Atlanta big men could be in line for big games.

Horford especially has thrived early on in the new system, as he is on pace for career highs in points per game and blocked shots. In the team's most recent outing, a 103-94 win over the Bobcats on Monday night, Horford led four Hawks in double figures with 24 points.

He scored 13 in the third quarter, when Atlanta rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to take a 10-point lead into the fourth. The center also played strong defense on Al Jefferson, limiting him to 10 points.

"It was a good win on the road for us," Budenholzer said. "I think it was another step forward for our defense."

Atlanta had alternated between losses and wins during the first six games before finally winning two in a row. The Knicks have yet to post consecutive victories.

Relief for Anthony has been an issue for New York, though the return from suspension of reigning Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith may help. Smith had just five points and shot 1 for 9 in 21 minutes during his season debut Sunday, but he will be worked in quickly to an offense that could use a punch.

Last season, Smith led the NBA in points per game off the bench with 18.1. The Knicks currently rank in the bottom half of the league in bench scoring at 28.2 points per game.

Smith's addition to the rotation is another adjustment for a team that has already made many of them. Not only were several new players added in the offseason, including veteran forwards Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace and rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr., but the Knicks changed their offensive system to spread the ball more and be less reliant on Anthony.

"The makeup of the team is different this year than last year," Anthony said. "Last year, I was more playing up top, spreading the offense, creating a lot of mismatches. This year is a little different of the makeup of the system, of the team.

"I'll figure it out."