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Thursday, January 2, 2014
W2W4: Knicks at Spurs

By Ian Begley

Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight's Knicks-Spurs game:

Melo back: Carmelo Anthony is expected to play against San Antonio. He's missed the past three games due to a left ankle injury.

The Knicks lost all three games without Anthony, and they weren't very competitive. New York was beaten by an average of 18.7 points and has been outscored by a combined 67 points since Anthony left during the Knicks' win over Orlando on Dec. 23.

Anthony is averaging 26.3 points per game, the third-highest average in the NBA -- so the Knicks should be a tougher out against San Antonio. But even with a healthy Anthony, they lost by 31 at home on Nov. 10 to San Antonio. Anthony was on the floor for 35 minutes that day but had a season-low 16 points.

The Spurs, by the way, have had their way against sub-.500 teams. They are undefeated in their past nine games against losing opponents and have won by an average of 18.6 points, according to STATS, LLC.

Struggling on D: There are many reasons behind the Knicks' 9-21 start.

One is their defense.

The Knicks have given up 104.4 points per game over their past eight. And they've allowed a combined 38 3-pointers in their past three games, according to STATS, LLC.

Long Island native and San Antonio sharpshooter Danny Green went 6-for-9 from beyond the arc against the Knicks on Nov. 10. Will the Knicks' spotty perimeter defense be able to account for him on Thursday?

Good point? Raymond Felton (groin) and Pablo Prigioni (toe) are expected to miss all three games on the Knicks' Texas trip against the Spurs, Rockets and Mavs.

That means the Knicks will need solid play from Beno Udrih and Toure' Murry.

Woodson left Udrih on the bench in the fourth quarter against Toronto last Saturday. He said he played Murry down the stretch because he was one of the players who "played hard" that night. It will be interesting to see how Woodson splits the minutes between Udrih and Murry against Tony Parker's Spurs.

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