ATLANTA -- Carmelo Anthony is finding it too easy to score right now, no matter who the Knicks are playing or who's defending him.
One night after torching the Heat for 50 points, Anthony seemed to be heading for that number again. It would have been fitting because Bernard King -- the only Knick to put up back-to-back 50s in 1984 -- was in the building.
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Anthony had to settle for 40 points in the Knicks' 10th straight victory, a 95-82 win over the Hawks Wednesday night. Afterward King told Anthony he liked what he saw.
"He said it was impressive," Anthony said. "He said it was impressive for him to watch. He said it reminded him of when he played."
Anthony might have scored 50 if he didn't need a little rest or get help from his teammates down the stretch.
He had 36 at the start of the fourth quarter of a tied game, but was on the bench. Mike Woodson wanted to reinsert Anthony two minutes in, but he needed to catch his breath.
"I was trying to get some rest, man," Anthony said. "It was back-to-back. The schedule ain't in our favor. Then he looked at me and I was like 'whatever you want me to do.' He said 'I'll give them a couple more minutes,' they made a run and he called my number."
Anthony returned with 8:31 left and the Knicks up 76-72. They opened up the game with a 17-6 run and led 93-78 with 1:30 left. Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith each scored 10 in the fourth when the Knicks outscored Atlanta 27-14. Smith finished with 19 points and Felton, who made five driving layups in the fourth, had 14.
The Knicks (48-26) are one-half game up on Indiana for the East's No. 2 seed and remain five games ahead of the Nets in the Atlantic Division with eight to play. The Knicks haven't won the division since 1993-94, which was the last time they won 10 in a row.
With each basket Anthony hit, the sparse, but heavily pro-Knick crowd in Philips Arena roared, hoping they would see another 50-point game. There were groans when he missed. But for the second straight night, Anthony didn't miss much.
Anthony finished 17 of 27 from the field and received a loud chorus of "M-V-P" chants late. He was 18-for-26 in Miami and that included going 7-for-10 from three-point range.
"He said it before the game," Kenyon Martin said. "He said the torch is still lit. So you got to go with his word. When he has it going like that, ain't nothing nobody can do."
Anthony actually missed three of his first four shots, but then buried 12 of his next 18. Many of them came with Josh Smith contesting.
"The rhythm was still there," Anthony said. "I just wanted to see if I still had it going early. Some shots went in that I felt like the rhythm was still there. It was just one of those nights once again."
Josh Smith had a rough game. He was 0-for-7 from the foul line, and had a mind-numbing trip in the first quarter, in which he missed four free throws and a short hook shot. Kyle Korver led the currently fifth-seeded Hawks (42-34) with 25 points.
It says a lot about Anthony that he didn't force it and try to score 50. Getting rest and the win were more important.