Here's what we’ll be watching at Madison Square Garden:
CAN’T STOP HIM: In three games against the Nets, Carmelo Anthony is averaging 37 points and seven rebounds, while shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range. Gerald Wallace and Keith Bogans will likely share the seemingly impossible task of guarding him. Good luck trying to contain Melo, guys.
ROAD-TRIPPERS: Monday’s game kicks off a stretch of four straight road games for the Nets, who have won eight of nine and 10 of 12 since P.J. Carlesimo took over for Avery Johnson. But Brooklyn (24-16) is just 8-9 away from home. On Dec. 19, the Nets were throttled by the Knicks, 100-86, at MSG.
HOUSTON BOUND: Brook Lopez ranks fourth in the NBA in player efficiency rating, slightly ahead of Anthony. Lopez, 24, is currently averaging 18.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. On Monday, he’ll go up against Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who has had a terrific season and is also a candidate to go to his first All-Star Game. The All-Star reserves, who are chosen by the rest of the coaches in their conference, respectively, will be announced Thursday.
DEFENDING THE 3: The Knicks rank first in the NBA in both 3-point attempts and 3-point makes. They are tied for third in 3-point percentage. The Nets are going to have to do a good job closing out and contesting shots. It’s not going to be easy with Melo commanding so much attention, but they can’t let the Knicks get hot from downtown if they want to win this one.