Carmelo Anthony said he couldn't move because of right knee stiffness three weeks ago, right about the time the Knicks were going through a stretch when they couldn't win. Now it seems as if Anthony can't miss and the Knicks can't lose.
Anthony has found his shot since getting the shot that drained the fluid from his knee. He's put up 90 points in the past two games -- hitting 35 of 53 attempts -- and is averaging 31.4 points since returning nine games ago.
"I've had games before where I felt pretty good and I had a great rhythm," Anthony said after the Knicks' win in Atlanta on Wednesday. "But on a roll like this, I can't recall that."
Anthony's brilliance has helped the Knicks win 10 straight after they dropped four in a row out West. They're playing like a team that can compete with the defending champion Heat in the playoffs. Anthony scored 50 against Miami on Tuesday, albeit with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers watching in street clothes.
"Not only Melo, it's everybody, man," coach Mike Woodson said. "These guys have been around long enough to know it's the regular season and what you do to position yourself for the playoffs. Melo, he's committed, man. He's hungry just like LeBron and those guys were hungry a few years ago, trying to chase that title. That's what we're trying to do as a team."
Perhaps fittingly, the Knicks will honor their last championship team at halftime of Friday night's game against Milwaukee, when they will go for their 49th win of the season and 11th in a row with some players from a roster Phil Jackson called "clumsy" last summer.
Jackson is expected to attend the 40th anniversary celebration of the 1972-73 title. He wasn't contacted when the Knicks' coaching job was somewhat open last year.
Woodson was the first choice after replacing Mike D'Antoni at midseason and guiding the Knicks to an 18-6 finish. Now Woodson has the Knicks closing in on their first 50-win season since 1999-2000 and first Atlantic Division title since 1993-94. (The Nets' loss to the Bulls Thursday night cut the Knicks' magic number to three.) Later this month, they will try to win a playoff series for the first time in 13 years.
"We've been committed all season," Woodson said. "We've had our ups and down in terms of injuries, but we still have a long way to go as a team."
But injuries continue to be a concern. Tyson Chandler complained of stiffness in his neck and said he had problems looking up Wednesday in Atlanta. Chandler missed nine games with a bulging disc in his neck before returning two games ago.
Kenyon Martin left the win over the Hawks with right knee soreness that's hampered him for a few games. Chandler wasn't on the Knicks' injury list, but Martin is questionable for Friday's game. "I think they're going to be fine," Woodson said on ESPN Radio Thursday.
Martin's defense has been a key to the Knicks' recent success, along with Pablo Prigioni's heady play and some big games from J.R. Smith.
An overlooked part of the streak is Kurt Thomas. After the Knicks lost their first four games on the western trip by an average of 20 points, he played a key role -- despite a stress fracture in his right foot -- as the Knicks won in Utah to begin the streak. He has been sidelined since.
"The turning point was Utah," Woodson said. "Kurt Thomas set us up there, in terms of us keying in on a win we really had to have and made our trip coming home a lot sweeter. And we forgot about that West Coast swing now. Ten games later, we're still undefeated."