Amar'e Stoudemire #1 and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New...

Amar'e Stoudemire #1 and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks celebrate from the bench against the Portland Trail Blazers. (March 14, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The dark cloud has been lifted from over the Knicks' heads, Carmelo Anthony said.

The stress of the past few weeks has dissipated, the sting of their recent six-game skid a distant memory. And for Anthony, the future for these new-look Knicks undoubtedly is bright.

Their three straight wins under new coach Mike Woodson can be a stepping stone to better days, more victories and a playoff push, he contends.

The only thing that has changed is the messenger -- and Anthony's attitude.

An upbeat Anthony spoke after practice Monday about his newfound commitment to defense, Woodson's rallying cry, and his desire to see his teammates succeed. Not just himself.

"I think in the last three games, my focus was to have an energy that I haven't had so far this season, especially on the defensive end," he said. "Everybody on this team knows, everybody in the world knows I can score the basketball. It's not that important to me."

Fans will see if the Knicks can ride this momentum to a victory over Toronto Tuesday night at the Garden, their first of eight games in 12 days.

"Obviously, there's a new energy," point guard Jeremy Lin said. "I think winning games will bring that."

Anthony became a controversial figure after Mike D'Antoni's departure as reports insinuated he was at odds with his former coach. But Anthony maintained that he was an innocent bystander in the process, and in the past few days, he has tried to revamp his image into a team-first guy who not only welcomes but seeks criticism.

"When he got the job, I told him, 'Hold me accountable,' " Anthony said of Woodson. "I don't have a problem with criticism. If I can do something to help better this team, let me know. And he's been doing that."

Anthony also said he's fine with not having to be the team's go-to guy.

"You never know whose night it's going to be," said Anthony, who has averaged 14.7 points in the three wins under Woodson after averaging 21.3 points under D'Antoni. "It could be anybody's night. The ball is being shared, everybody is having fun out there. But most importantly, everybody is having fun on the defensive end."

Anthony took only 37 shots in 78 minutes in the last three games, which the Knicks won by an average of 23.7 points, but Lin pointed out that the forward's assist totals have improved. He had 15 assists in that span. "He's been sharing the ball, making a lot of plays, making it easier for other players," Lin said.

Lin said it's "tough" to set up Anthony for good shots because teams are double-teaming the forward. But when asked about Anthony's offensive stats, Woodson replied matter-of-factly: "I'm not concerned about Melo getting a whole bunch of shots.

"I think there's enough shots to come on our team with players that will make a difference," he added. "I'm not taking anything away from Melo or anybody on this team offensively. We're still doing some of the things that Mike D'Antoni put in. I'd be crazy to try to change everything. There's not enough time in the day to do that."

Notes & quotes: Baron Davis (hamstring) ran drills Monday and is questionable for Tuesday night's game.


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