November 21, 2014

The Knicks have been hurting without Carmelo Anthony, though a return home and a matchup with the NBA's worst team could provide a remedy.

With Anthony hopeful to return, the Knicks look to end a two-game losing streak in Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Knicks recorded a fourth straight win at Madison Square Garden but lost Anthony to a sprained right ankle in Tuesday's 120-114 victory over Boston. They've since dropped two straight on the road with the star forward out of the lineup to fall to 0-4 when Anthony hasn't played.

Anthony's absence was felt down the stretch of Saturday's game at Memphis, where New York (20-22) was tied after three quarters but went 6 of 18 in the fourth in a 103-95 loss.

The Knicks finished 5 of 20 from 3-point range after a 7-of-22 effort in Wednesday's 110-104 loss to Brooklyn. Arron Afflalo and Langston Galloway, the primary perimeter threats with Anthony out, were a combined 7 of 22 overall against Memphis.

"We still had enough," coach Derek Fisher said. "We were there through three quarters and they won the fourth quarter."

Anthony did participate in Saturday's shootaround before being held out of the game as a precaution, leaving the Knicks optimistic he'll be available for the team's annual Martin Luther King Day home game.

New York has won three straight and seven of eight over last-place Philadelphia (5-37), including a 99-87 victory at the Garden on Dec. 2. They'll be facing a 76ers team with a different look than the one they defeated twice last month, however.

Jahlil Okafor missed that Dec. 2 meeting while serving a team-issued suspension for an altercation outside a Boston nightclub and Philadelphia had yet to acquire point guard Ish Smith. Four of Philadelphia's five wins have come since it acquired the journeyman from New Orleans on Dec. 24.

Smith is averaging 21.5 points over a four-game stretch and had 16 in Saturday's 114-89 rout of Portland, the 76ers' most-lopsided win of the season. Okafor added 25 points on 12-of-16 shooting to help Philadelphia match its highest scoring total of 2015-16.

''We think that we're playing good basketball lately and I think the games confirm that," coach Brett Brown said.

Okafor recorded 20 points when the Knicks visited Philadelphia on Dec. 18. Though the Sixers were dealt a 107-97 loss, they outscored New York 56-46 in the paint.

The Knicks had trouble stopping Memphis' post players, allowing 37 points to center Marc Gasol and 14 to Zach Randolph.

Anthony has struggled in the two meetings with the 76ers, going 9 of 30 while compiling 28 points. Afflalo had 22 on 9-of-13 shooting in the latest matchup and is averaging 17.7 over his last three games.

Philadelphia, 0-24 against the Eastern Conference, has lost four straight and eight of 10 at MSG.

The Knicks are 18-11 on Martin Luther King Day and have hosted a game on the holiday every year since 1987. They defeated New Orleans 99-92 last MLK Day to snap a four-game losing streak on the holiday.

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