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Charles Barkley praises Carmelo Anthony!

Charles Barkley, left, and Shaquille O'Neal wrap up

Charles Barkley, left, and Shaquille O'Neal wrap up an interview at TNT studios after O'Neal joined the cast of the network's "Inside the NBA" for a live media call-in show on Thursday. (Dec. 15, 2011) Credit: AP

Having the Knicks reach the Eastern Conference finals against the Heat would be all sorts of fun, one reason being this: TNT would carry the series, giving Charles Barkley regular opportunities to annoy Knicks fans – and, even better, give me writing material.

Barkley, the most prominent Knicks skeptic working in media, was at it again Thursday, saying that the Nets would beat the Knicks in a seven-game series and that if Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin are not healthy, the Knicks will not survive the first round.

But in fairness, Sir Charles did call the Knicks “very dangerous’’ and offered this take on Carmelo Anthony’s surge:

“The difference in Carmelo this year versus previous years is he takes four seconds to take a shot and before it used to take him seven. He still takes some bad shots sometimes but he does it in four seconds so everyone can still play with him. Before, no one could play with him when he was taking seven seconds to take a shot.

“He’s shortened his decision-making time and that has made the Knicks a better team.’’

New York Sports