The New York Knicks have an opportunity to match their longest winning streak from last season in their first nine games, but the Charlotte Hornets are also showing some aptitude lately.
That winning streak last season also came to an end in Charlotte, where the Knicks will be Wednesday night with both teams trying to win a back-to-back set.
New York (4-4) won 111-109 in Toronto on Tuesday, two nights after beating the Los Angeles Lakers at home, and can match a three-game streak from Jan. 19-23.
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Carmelo Anthony had 25 points, and while he's still searching for his shot to some extent, he's at least averaging 24.5 points and hitting 41.9 percent in the consecutive wins after being at 17.7 and 31.4 on the preceding three-game losing streak.
The Knicks improved to 3-1 on the road a season after finishing 7-34 and being outscored by 10.6 points per game in opponents' arenas.
While they've been strong defending the 3 over the last six games (27.5 percent), they countered on the other side by hitting 11 for 23 from 3-point range against the Raptors with Lance Thomas going 3 for 3. The reserve forward had a season-high 17 points and is shooting 58.5 percent for the season after finishing last season at 41.2.
"He's another guy who adds value to what we are and he helped us win this game tonight," coach Derek Fisher said.
It's also helped that the Knicks have taken care of the ball with 19 total turnovers in the consecutive wins after averaging 16.2 over the previous five contests, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. They were outscored 60-34 in the paint and allowed Toronto to get to the line 39 times.
"We were fortunate to get out with the win giving up 60 points in the paint and fouling as much as we did," Fisher said. "Those are areas that we're really trying to improve in a major way."
New York's only three-game run last season ended with a 76-71 loss in Charlotte on Jan. 24 as the Hornets won the last three meetings of the four-game season series.
The Hornets (3-4) won for the third time in four games Tuesday, defeating Minnesota 104-95 to complete a three-game road trip. They've come around offensively, averaging 109.0 points and shooting 49.2 percent in the last four games after posting marks of 93.3 and 39.1 on their season-opening three-game losing streak.
The bench has accounted for 48.3 points per game over the last four, with Jeremy Lin scoring a team-high 19 against the Timberwolves and fellow reserve Jeremy Lamb adding 18. Lamb is averaging 14.5 and shooting 66.7 percent in the last four games.
"I think if we're going to be really good, then we're going to have good bench play," coach Steve Clifford said. "I mean, I think that our starters are good, but to be a really good team our bench is going to have to be like they were tonight."
That might not be quite as necessary if Kemba Walker can recover from a 4-for-12 effort against Minnesota. The point guard is averaging 21.9 points in his last seven games against New York.
Hornets small forward P.J. Hairston left Tuesday's game with a migraine and did not return.
Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (left hamstring) remained out, though is expected to make his season debut soon.