The Knicks have won six in a row -- the longest current streak in the NBA -- and their Friday night opponent, Charlotte, has lost eight straight road games by an average of 23.1 points.
The Knicks' last winning streak of at least seven straight games -- the longest in the Carmelo Anthony era -- came more than a year ago (Feb. 4-15, 2012).
Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Garden. Here are three main things to watch for:
1. "Just Remarkable" for a third time? J.R. Smith is coming off two consecutive games with 30 or more points, and the Knicks won both games. Smith has been a man on a mission, attacking the rim in transition and in half-court sets. With the Bobcats struggling as of late, the sky's the limit for the Knicks' sixth man.
Smith has also applied his aggressiveness to the glass. To go along with his scoring outbursts in the past two games, he had eight offensive rebounds (four per game). Without the injured Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire, Smith has given the Knicks another sorely needed inside punch besides Anthony.
2. A more efficient Melo? In his past two games, Anthony shot 33.3 percent and 40 percent from the field -- and he combined for 50 attempts. On the season, he's shooting 43.5 percent.
Anthony recently returned from injury, and the Knicks are loading up on him in the low post so he can take most of the shots; therefore, defenses are making it a bit tougher on him. To alleviate some of that pressure, the Knicks should mix it up a bit more, with Anthony facilitating pick-and-rolls or running off additional screen sets. That would free him up more for jump shots.
Playing alongside Kenyon Martin, a timely and hard-nosed screener, should continue to work well for Melo. Martin has already helped Melo with his offense, and the power forward's offensive board work has been huge.
3. How about a dominant first quarter? As I mentioned, the Bobcats have been struggling lately, except for the overall play of New York City native Kemba Walker (26.3 points in his past three games). The Knicks' starters should look to take advantage early and then hope to get some rest later in the game. Anthony played 40 minutes Wednesday night, and coach Mike Woodson would like him down to 33-35.
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