'Melo, Knicks hope to stay on track vs. Cavs

( - The Jekyll and Hyde New York Knicks hope to remain on the winning side of things when they continue their lengthy homestand Thursday versus the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks won five in a row earlier this month, then proceeded to lose the next five games, including the first three portions of this extended homestand. They have bounced back with three wins a row and handed the rival Boston Celtics a 114-88 setback Tuesday behind Carmelo Anthony's 24 points.

Anthony has scored a total of 121 points over his last three games, averaging 40.3 points per game in that time. His 62-point outburst versus Charlotte last Friday kicked off New York's current winning streak.

"We're figuring it out. It's not going to happen for us overnight. Defensively, we're stepping up to the challenge," said Anthony, who is second in the NBA with 27.1 ppg and needs 15 points for 19,000 in his career.

J.R. Smith and Jeremy Tyler scored 17 points apiece off the bench, while Tim Hardaway, Jr. added 16 and Tyson Chandler posted 12 points with 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who made 53.7 percent from the field and 10-of-20 3-pointers.

Tyler's 17 points were a career-high.

"He's been playing well. He's given us some positive energy defensively; offensively he's making plays." Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said of Tyler. "Some of the hard work that he's put in with the coaches and myself is starting to pay off."

Knicks swingman Iman Shumpert suffered a right shoulder sprain and did not return. He is questionable Thursday and averaging 7.1 ppg this season.

The Knicks are 10-15 at MSG and have a big matchup with Miami coming up on Saturday night. They are 4-1 against Miami in the regular season over the past two years.

But New York must not look past the Cavaliers.

Cleveland will begin a three-game road trip Thursday against New York, Houston and Dallas, and went 1-4 on a recent homestand.

In Tuesday's 100-89 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters scored 23 and 21 points, respectively, while No. 1 draft pick Anthony Bennett added 15 off the bench.

"He had a heck of a practice yesterday for us. He's been doing the things we ask of him to do in practice," Cavs head coach Mike Brown said of Bennett. "We played him and he took advantage of the opportunity. Just one of those things when you've got to stay ready when your number is called and he showed that he stayed ready tonight."

Tyler Zeller finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavs, who couldn't contain Pelicans young forward Anthony Davis. Davis had 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting, eight blocks and seven rebounds.

Cavs center Anderson Varejao was inactive because of a knee injury and he is questionable against the Knicks. Varejao has 3,990 career points and 3,999 career rebounds. He will soon join Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Brad Daugherty and John Williams as the only players in Cavs history with at least 4,000 points and 4,000 rebounds.

Irving is averaging 21.9 points per game in his last seven for Cleveland, which is only 5-17 on the road and winless in four straight trips to Madison Square Garden. Cleveland defeated New York at home back on Dec. 10, but the Knicks have won six of the previous nine meetings in this series.