Carmelo Anthony feels the New York Knicks must win.
Welcoming the Sacramento Kings to Madison Square Garden could be just what they need.
Anthony will look to bounce back from his worst offensive showing of the season Wednesday night as the Knicks try to send the last-place Kings to their eighth straight road defeat.
New York (20-31) is 2 1/2 games back of Charlotte for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference despite a first half that hardly met anyone's expectations after earning the No. 2 seed last season.
"We gotta win," Anthony said. "We have to win. There's nothing more than that. We have to win."
The Knicks haven't done much of that lately as they stumble toward the All-Star break averaging 99.2 points during a 1-4 stretch. That's a dramatic drop in production after they averaged 116.5 points during a four-game winning streak immediately prior to that.
Anthony powered that run with 37.5 points per game, including a team-record 62 points in a 125-96 win over Charlotte at MSG on Jan. 24.
He wasn't anywhere near those numbers Sunday, finishing with a season-low 15 points while missing 14 of 19 attempts from the floor in a 112-100 loss at Oklahoma City.
"I wasn't able to score throughout the whole game," said Anthony, the Knicks' lone All-Star for Sunday's game in New Orleans. "Seeing two or three guys every time, that's tough to do. I gotta figure out when I see defenses like that how to do something different."
Anthony, second in the league with 27.1 points per game, may be feeling better about facing the Western Conference-worst Kings (17-35), who give up 105.4 points per game on the road. He only had nine points the last time Sacramento visited, but was hardly needed as Amare Stoudemire made all 10 of his field-goal attempts and finished with 21 points a 120-81 romp on Feb. 2, 2013.
J.R. Smith led the Knicks with 25 points in that meeting, and he's expected to play with a protective mask after suffering a broken cheekbone against the Thunder. He had just seven points Sunday after averaging 20.0 on 50 percent shooting - 15 of 33 from long range - over the previous five games.
Stoudemire is averaging 16.0 points in his past three contests.
The Kings have lost seven in a row as the visitor, and they seemed to already be looking forward to the All-Star break after Tuesday's 109-99 defeat in Cleveland.
"The effort wasn't there," said center DeMarcus Cousins, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds. "It was just bad overall. I don't really have an answer, but whatever it is, it needs to be fixed. After the All-Star break, we'll start fresh, which is what we need right now."
Sacramento has averaged 96.0 points in its last nine games - 6.2 fewer than it put up per game in its first 43.
The Kings could use some increased production from Rudy Gay, who has totaled 19 points on 6-for-23 shooting in two games after sitting out a 99-89 loss at Boston on Friday with a left Achilles injury.
Gay missed 17 of 21 shots in his most recent game at MSG, a 92-88 win while with the Raptors last Feb. 13.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved