Melo: It's time for behind-schedule Knicks

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If he had made a bet before the season, Carmelo Anthony would've put “any amount of money” on the Knicks being better than 10 games under .500 at this point.

Same goes for the 16-22 Nets.

“If you would have said both teams would have had these records at this point ... I would have bet against that,” Anthony said Sunday.

And he would have lost.

Both teams enter Round 2 of the East River Rivalry playing well below expectations. But the Nets seem to be turning a corner. You certainly can’t say the same thing for the Knicks, losers of three straight.

“Record-wise, we’re not where we wanted to be at this point. We’re way behind that,” Anthony said.

As they continue to search for reasons to be optimistic about this wayward season, the Knicks are holding on to the idea they can turn things around over the next six games.

In theory, it makes sense.

Starting with Monday’s Martin Luther King Day matinee against the Nets, the Knicks will have six straight home games against teams under .500. In fact, each team they play over the next six games will wake up Monday morning at least six games under .500.

Carmelo sees it as a make-or-break stretch.

“This is our time to make something happen. If there’s any time in the season, this is it,” he said. “This is a very important two weeks for us. We have to take it one game at a time, but overall that’s the mindset we have to have.”

Whatever mindset the Knicks have had to this point at home hasn’t worked well. New York is 7-13 at Madison Square Garden this season. That’s tied for the second-worst home record in the NBA.

Last season, Mike Woodson’s club went 31-10 at the Garden.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t play well at home,” Woodson said after practice Sunday. “We got our fans, it’s our floor, and we should be excited about stepping on that floor playing.”

The Knicks lost at home by 14 points to the Clippers on Friday to open a season-long, eight-game homestand. Woodson, like Anthony, sees this as a pivotal stretch.

“Starting [Monday], we really gotta buckle in and concentrate on what’s at hand,” the coach said. "Because this could really make our season if we take care of business, like I know we’re capable of doing."

Deron Williams and the Nets have an opportunity to throw a wrench into Woodson’s plans Monday.

Brooklyn has played well of late, winning six of seven. So the Knicks will see a very different Nets team Monday than the one they beat by 30 points Dec. 5.

“Since that game ... it seemed like they kind of turned it out a little bit,” Anthony said. "Guys got healthy on their team. Guys started playing a little bit better."

The Knicks finished the month of December at 9-21 -- so that win over the Nets didn’t get them much of a bump. New York started the calendar year red-hot, winning six of seven. Since then, Carmelo & Co. have lost to the Charlotte Bobcats on the road and were noncompetitive in losses to Indiana and the Clippers.

The Nets, on the other hand, have gone 11-8 since Dec. 5.

“I’m pretty sure it will be a lot different tomorrow,” Anthony said. “They will come ready to play. They will come prepared. We have to come prepared.”

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