Melo-Bargnani combo 'looking good'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks have scrimmaged twice during training camp, so it's too early to make any broad statements about lineups or personnel combinations.

But so far, Mike Woodson likes what he sees from the Andrea Bargnani-Carmelo Anthony pairing.

"It’s looking good," Woodson said on Sunday. "I don’t know who’s going to start yet. But I like the makeup of Andrea and Melo on the floor at the same time with Tyson [Chandler]. In the scrimmage we worked that combination. It wasn’t bad."

Anthony and Bargnani, the Knicks' biggest offseason acquisition, have spent the past seven practices getting used to one another on the court.

"Me and 'B' had a great week, just playing together, spacing it out on the court, me trying to learn from him, him trying to learn from me, trying to see what spots he likes out there on the basketball court," Anthony said. "For the most part, he's actually a smart player; he can play off people."

If Bargnani can figure out how to play off Anthony, the Knicks' offense could be a handful for the rest of the NBA.

In the best-case scenario for New York, defenses that double-team Anthony will do so at the risk of leaving Bargnani -- or another Knick -- alone for open looks on the opposite side of the floor.

"Hopefully I can help the team keep playing like they were playing last year," said Bargnani, who battled injuries last season and shot under 40 percent from the floor. "They have a lot of up-tempo plays, a lot of 3s, a lot of space on the floor."

The Knicks should be fine on offense with Anthony and Bargnani on the floor. But, if recent statistical trends continue, there could be issues on defense.

Toronto last season allowed 5.5 more points per 100 possessions when Bargnani was on the floor, compared to when he was on the bench.

The drop-off wasn't as drastic for Anthony -- the Knicks allowed just two more points per 100 possessions when Anthony was on the floor, compared to when he was on the bench.

Playing defense, of course, is a five-man pursuit, so it's hard to single out just how much Bargnani contributed to the Raptors' defensive issues. Same goes for Anthony.

But it's fair to wonder if the Knicks will have a tougher time getting stops when Anthony and Bargnani share the floor.

Another issue that could arise is this: The Anthony-Bargnani pairing may also force Anthony back to small forward. Anthony, for what it's worth, said on Sunday that he has no issue with the move.

"I mean, that's what got me here," he said.

But Anthony won a scoring title last season playing primarily at power forward. He also had success defending the opponent's power forward in part because didn't have to chase another small forward around the perimeter. He may have to do just that when Bargnani's on the floor.

Anthony, though, believes the debate over him playing at small forward or power forward is a waste of time.

"Just put me out there, put us out there on the basketball court, whoever's in the lineup we'll adjust to each other, we'll try to make it work and we'll go from there," he said.

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