W2W4: Knicks vs. Raptors

Here are a few things to keep an eye on during Friday's game between the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden:

Will Melo play? Carmelo Anthony is officially listed as questionable. If Anthony can't play, the Knicks may have a tough time filling the void.

The Knicks have been outscored 169-125 since Anthony went down with an ankle sprain in the third quarter of Monday's win over the Orlando Magic. That deficit includes an embarrassing 29-point home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day.

Anthony has been getting treatment on his injured ankle for the past four days, but he may sit out Friday night because the Knicks are playing again on Saturday night.

If Anthony sits, it may mean more shots/playing time for J.R. Smith. That didn't work out well for Mike Woodson & Co. on Wednesday. Smith was 8-for-22 from the field in 38 minutes. He scored 20 points, but the Knicks were outscored by 32 when he was on the floor.

Anthony, by the way, has led the Knicks in scoring in all 27 of the games he's played in. He's averaging 26.3 points on 44.7 percent shooting.

Battle for the Titanic: Despite all the disappointments and disastrous games in the first third of the season, the Knicks find themselves in good shape in the Atlantic Division race. New York (9-19) is just three games behind first-place Toronto entering Friday night's game against the Raptors.

The Knicks play a back-to-back against Toronto (Friday, Saturday) -- so, if all goes well, they could be just one game out of first place by the end of the weekend.

One person to keep an eye on: Kyle Lowry. The Knicks have had trouble defending point guards all season, and Lowry has been playing well of late, averaging 21.7 points in his past three games.

The Raptors beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City and topped the Dallas Mavericks thanks in large part to Lowry's efforts. They are coming off of a road loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Dolan's message: According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Knicks owner and MSG chairman James Dolan met with the team before practice Thursday and told them that there aren't any trades or coaching changes forthcoming.

It will be interesting to see if the players/coaching staff perform with a renewed confidence and/or relaxed nature now that Dolan has said everyone is safe.

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