The New York Knicks will try to become the first Eastern Conference team to 20 wins on Friday night when they host the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have won five of their last six and are 11-1 inside the world's most famous arena. Their most recent victory came Wednesday night when they bested city rival, the Brooklyn Nets, 100-86.
Carmelo Anthony returned from injury Wednesday night and poured in 31 points, his fourth straight plus-30 scoring performance. Tyson Chandler recorded a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds and J.R. Smith chipped in 19 off the bench.
The Knicks are cruising right now, but they'll have to wait a little while longer for the return of Amare Stoudemire.
The big man, who hasn't played yet this season, has practiced twice as he recovers from a ruptured popliteal cyst. There were some reports that Stoudemire would be back Friday night, or maybe Sunday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he dismissed that possibility.
"I'm on pace to return back to dominance, it's just a matter of getting 100 percent," Stoudemire said. "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I can see that my health is getting better and better every day, so that being said, there���s confidence in me being 100 percent soon."
The Knicks are expected to get at least one player back on Friday. Steve Novak, who missed the Nets game with flu-like symptoms, practiced on Thursday and is expected to be back behind the 3-point line, where he shoots 44 percent.
The Bulls head to the Garden winners of six of their last eight. On Tuesday, Chicago beat the Boston Celtics, 100-89 at home thanks to the strong play of the starting front line.
Joakim Noah's All-Star push continued with his second career triple-double. He scored 11 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and dished out 10 assists. Noah also blocked three shots and left the opposing coach extremely impressed.
"Noah's terrific," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He's such a great passer. Without (Derrick) Rose, we consider him their point guard. He makes their decisions. He bails them out. I bet 10 times in the first half with a late clock he flashes to the ball and makes a play either by scoring or assisting. He's just an extremely high IQ basketball player. I've said it for four years now, and it's getting higher and higher."
Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer, both Duke products, each had 12 points. Deng went 11-for-12 from the foul line and recorded four rebounds and three assists, while Boozer grabbed 12 boards.
The Bulls, who are 6-4 on the road this season, beat the Knicks in Chicago on Dec. 8. The Bulls have won five of their last six against New York.