Knicks vs. Bulls preview: Can New York stop its slide?

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks star wing Carmelo Anthony is coming fresh off his one-game suspension for a prime time matchup against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

The New York Knicks (23-12) have dropped two straight games, but they will get a chance to turn things around on Friday night when they host the Chicago Bulls (19-14) as part of a doubleheader on ESPN. The recent losses for New York both relate back to Carmelo Anthony. He let Kevin Garnett get into his head on Monday night during a loss to the Celtics and hit only 6-of-26 shots before a post-game incident that earned him a one-game suspension from the league. He served his suspension on Thursday night, and the Knicks struggled to score in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Melo's first matchup against the Bulls didn't exactly go smoothly, either. He missed the first meeting between the two teams on Dec. 8 -- Chicago won 93-85 while he sat with a bum finger -- and then he scored 29 points on Dec. 21 in another Bulls win but was ejected from the contest after picking up a pair of technical fouls. The Knicks sit just 0.5 games behind the Miami Heat for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference, so a win on Friday would put them atop the sugar pile.

Meanwhile, the Bulls have enjoyed a bump in production from Carlos Boozer during a recent 3-1 stretch. Boozer has recorded a double-double in six straight games, and he's topped 20 points and 10 rebounds in four consecutive contests.

The Bulls boast the No. 4 defense in the NBA and they've successfully held down the Knicks' No. 2 offensive attack twice already this year. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of those two wins is that Thibodeau's defense has held the Knicks to a combined 16-of-49 (32.6 percent) on threes.

The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET. According to Odds Shark, the Knicks are favored by four points and the over/under is set at 191 points.

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