December 19, 2014

The New York Knicks certainly miss Carmelo Anthony. They may not have to endure another absence Friday night.

With Anthony reportedly nearing a return, the banged-up Knicks attempt to capitalize on a meeting with the Phoenix Suns and send them to their longest road losing streak in three decades.

New York (22-26) is 0-6 without Anthony, dropping the last two games while he nurses soreness in his left knee.

The Knicks have allowed an average of 108.5 points - 7.2 higher than their season mark - in games without the nine-time All-Star.

Their troubles were at the line and on the boards Thursday at Toronto. New York, which was also without forward Kristaps Porzingis (upper-respiratory illness) and guard Jose Calderon (groin), was outrebounded 50-40 and converted just half of its 20 free throws in a 103-93 loss.

The Knicks lead the NBA with 80.7 percent shooting from the line.

"We didn't do enough things to win regardless of who suits up," coach Derek Fisher said. "Simple things, we missed free throws again. We've been a great free throw-shooting team all season; didn't have the focus necessary to make those free throws. Offensive rebounding again hurt us a little bit. We had our chances; we couldn't capitalize."

Having Anthony back would be a huge help as New York tries to avoid a season-high fifth consecutive loss. Anthony claimed he's feeling better and is aiming to return Friday.

It's uncertain if Porzingis and Calderon will be back.

Porzingis leads the Knicks with 7.8 rebounds per game and Anthony isn't far behind at 7.5. If the forward tandem is unable to play, New York is likely to turn to Kyle O'Quinn and Lance Thomas, who combined for 15 points and eight boards Thursday.

Without Anthony, much of the offensive burden falls on Arron Afflalo, who scored 20 points Thursday after averaging 10.7 over the three prior games. He's totaled 20 over his last two meetings with the Suns, but those came with Portland last season.

The Knicks are averaging 89.0 points during a three-game losing streak against the Suns (14-33), but Phoenix is 4-20 on the road and facing the potential of its longest slide away from home since dropping 14 in a row from Jan. 3-Feb. 17, 1984.

Their current skid - which includes surrendering 115.1 points per game - reached 12 with Wednesday's 115-93 defeat at Cleveland.

Injuries have been a major problem for Phoenix, which will reportedly be without Brandon Knight for a fifth straight game due to a left groin strain. Knight's averages of 19.7 points and 5.1 assists rank second on the team behind Eric Bledsoe's 20.4 and 6.1. Bledsoe, however, is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery last month.

"The injuries have kind of put us under the ball," coach Jeff Hornacek said.

Devin Booker has been one of the few bright spots lately for the Suns, averaging 19.8 points over the past five games. The rookie guard was averaging 8.0 points through his first 36 contests.

Tyson Chandler has 25 points and 39 rebounds in two games against the Knicks after spending three seasons with them from 2011-14. He had 14 boards and eight points in a win with Dallas in his return to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 16, 2014.

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