Anthony back to MSG as Blazers visit Knicks

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Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks had their best days of the 2010s when they were together. They’ll start the 2020s by visiting one another Wednesday night, when Anthony and the Portland Trail Blazers head to Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks in a New Year’s Day clash.

The Knicks have been off since Saturday, when they built a rare winning streak by beating the host Washington Wizards 107-100. The Trail Blazers suffered their fourth straight loss Monday when they fell to the visiting Phoenix Suns 122-116.

The two-game winning streak for the Knicks — they beat the Brooklyn Nets 94-82 last Thursday — marks just the second time this season they’ve won back-to-back games. But both streaks have come under interim head coach Mike Miller, who took over for the fired David Fizdale on Dec. 6 and has directed New York to a 5-6 record, including consecutive road victories over the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings Dec. 11-13.

The five wins are one more than the Knicks had in 21 games under Fizdale and have New York hoping it has turned a corner to competitiveness.

“I want us to be consistent,” Knicks power forward Julius Randle told reporters recently. “I think we’ve shown a lot of maturity.”

Still, the Knicks are far away from the salad days of 2012-13. Anthony, a New York native in the midst of his third season with his hometown team, led the NBA with 28.7 points per game while helping New York to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first (and thus far only) time since the spring of 2000.

The Knicks missed the playoffs in each of the following four seasons, a span in which Anthony averaged 24.0 points per game. Anthony was then traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in September 2017.

That began a meandering path for Anthony, who was dealt to the Atlanta Hawks in July 2018 and almost immediately waived. He played 10 games last season with the Houston Rockets before being traded to the Bulls, who waived Anthony before he ever suited up in Chicago.

Anthony remained unsigned until joining the Trail Blazers Nov. 19. He promptly won Western Conference Player of the Week honors in his second week with the club and enters Wednesday averaging 15.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for Portland, which entered Tuesday a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Knicks expect Anthony, who remains popular in the city, to receive a warm welcome in his second game at the Garden since the trade to the Thunder. Anthony scored 12 points for Oklahoma City in New York’s 111-96 win on Dec. 16, 2017.

“I think he should get a standing ovation,” Knicks forward Taj Gibson told the New York Post following practice Tuesday. “He did a lot for the city. Came back, did well for the team. Great all-around player, great all-around person.”

–Field Level Media

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