Although he's found a bit of rhythm for the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony would prefer some help in crunch time when opponents focus on slowing him down.
The All-Star forward might not need it at home Sunday against a banged-up New Orleans Pelicans team which is struggling on defense and could be missing star Anthony Davis.
Since averaging 21.0 points on 36.6 percent shooting - including 9 of 28 from 3-point range - in his first six games, Anthony has scored 26.0 and shot 44.3 percent over his last four. He's also hit 11 of 26 attempts from beyond the arc over that span.
He had 26 points and hit a season high-tying four 3s Friday versus Cleveland, but was just 1 for 6 over the final 12 minutes with LeBron James his primary defender in a 90-84 home defeat. Anthony is shooting 43.1 percent in the first three quarters but just 29.8 in the fourth.
"Guys are maybe trying to look at me a little too much, instead of trying to make the right play," Anthony said. "I think once we get past that, we'll be OK."
That could change as the Knicks (4-6) try to avoid their third straight loss. New Orleans ranks last in points allowed per game (111.0) and is tied for last in defensive field-goal percentage (47.9). The Pelicans have also allowed an average of 30.8 points on 60.3 percent shooting in the fourth quarter over their past four games.
After reaching the playoffs last season for the first time since 2010-11, the Pelicans haven't been able to take a step forward under first-year coach Alvin Gentry.
They played their second straight without Davis and lost for the eighth time in nine games with Friday's 100-81 defeat at Toronto. Gentry said the club will err on the side of caution with the All-Star forward, who is questionable with a hip contusion. New Orleans has dropped 10 of 14 without him over the past two seasons.
"We have to play with the same intensity, doing the same thing as far as moving the basketball offensively and things like that," Gentry added. "We don't know when (Davis) is going to play again so we can't use that as an excuse. We don't have any excuses."
The Pelicans, trying to end their worst start since opening 1-18 in 2004-05, are also missing Norris Cole (ankle), Tyreke Evans (knee), Kendrick Perkins (pectoral) and Quincy Pondexter (knee).
Eric Gordon had 30 points and Jrue Holiday added 19 against the Raptors. Gordon has been a bright spot, averaging 22.8 points and hitting 24 of 59 (40.7 percent) in his last six. His 20.6 scoring average in nine career meetings with New York is his second highest versus any opponent.
Omer Asik proved to be a difficult matchup for the Knicks last season, totaling 27 points and 31 rebounds as both teams won at home. New Orleans held a 93-64 rebounding edge in the series despite not having Davis in its January loss at Madison Square Garden.
The Pelicans, however, rank near the bottom of the NBA with a minus-5.9 margin on the glass this season. New York is in the top 10 (plus-2.3) behind Kristaps Porzingis' 8.8 boards per game.
The Knicks have won five of the past seven meetings at the Garden.