D'Antoni: We could have used Smith, Melo

NEW YORK -- The Knicks were close to pulling off a comeback victory against a team that walked into the Garden with six wins. They trailed by five with 25 seconds left when they found their purest shooter wide open beyond the 3-point arc.

Then Steve Novak’s 3-point attempt clanged off the side of the rim. Tyson Chandler gathered the rebound and kicked out to Landry Fields. Clang again.

Even Amare Stoudemire’s attempt to pull within a point with two seconds left banged off the back rim. It seemed like a perfect timing to have Carmelo Anthony returning on Sunday and possibly J.R. Smith joining the team Monday against New Jersey.

“We could have used [Smith] tonight, that’s for sure, and Melo,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game.

The Knicks shot a dismal 4-for-24 from the 3-point line and 41 percent overall. Stoudemire played one of his better offensive games with 26 points on 12-for-21 shooting and 12 rebounds. But the Knicks mustered only two field goals in the last four minutes against New Orleans.

Anthony’s return and Smith’s arrival have spurned questions about the team’s future chemistry. Stoudemire said the offense will be more lethal.

“It should be devastating,” Stoudemire said when asked what he expects from the offense when Anthony joins him and Jeremy Lin on Sunday. “With Carmelo coming back, it’s definitely a great weapon for us. To have him back in the lineup, it’s going to be something that the opposing defense doesn’t want to see. It’s going to be devastating for the opposing team.”

Smith adds another scorer from deep range to the roster. The explosive forward, who played with Anthony in Denver, has averaged 12.5 points for his career and shot 39 percent from behind the arc last year with the Nuggets.

“He’s a phenomenal scorer, I’ll tell you that, very athletic player,” Stoudemire said. “He can get to the basket with the best of them, very explosive player. I’ve been watching him his whole career and I’m a big fan of his game. He’s going to be a great, great help for us.”

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