Josh NewmanAfter spraining his left ankle midway through the third quarter of a 103-98 win at the Orlando Magic on Monday evening, Carmelo Anthony used part of his postgame media availability to assure people that he would do everything in his power to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder in one of the NBA’s marquee attractions, Christmas Day.
Apparently, doing everything he could over the course of 36 hours between then and Wednesday afternoon wasn’t enough.
Anthony missed his first game of the season with that sprained left ankle and the result was not pretty as the Knicks fell to the Thunder, 123-94, in what went down as the worst Christmas Day loss in NBA history.
“He said he couldn’t go, so when he tells you he can’t go, you’ve gotta listen and try to find it somewhere else,” said Knicks head coach Mike Woodson, who called Anthony a game-time decision about an hour and 45 minutes prior to tip-off before the team ruled him out a short time later. “He was really missed tonight because he’s a big part of what we do.”
Without Anthony, J.R. Smith got the start, plus many of the shots Anthony would normally take. The result was somewhat predictable with the way this season has unfolded as Smith shot 8-for-22 from the field and finished with just 20 points. The 22 shot attempts were one off his season-high 23, which came on Dec. 18 at the Milwaukee bucks in a game that went to two overtimes.
Amare’s Stoudemire led the Knicks with 22 points off the bench, one of three Knicks to finish with at least 20, but the offense looked shaky without Anthony leading the way. The Knicks shot just 38-for-90 (42.2 percent) from the floor, and 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) from 3-point range. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined to shoot 5-for-16 from deep.
“Disappointed? I wasn’t disappointed,” Kevin Durant said when asked about Anthony missing the game. “That’s something we can’t control, man. We just try to focus on us. No matter who’s on the court for the other team, we just focus on us. We respect every guy in this league. We knew without their best player, other guys were going try to step up.”
The Knicks have now lost three of five and the status of Anthony is uncertain. Woodson said he will be reevaluated Thursday morning at practice before deciding how to proceed. The Knicks open up a home-and-home with the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors beginning Friday evening back at Madison Square Garden.
In addition to Anthony, the team is without Metta World Peace (sore left knee), Raymond Felton (strained right groin) and Pablo Prigioni (fractured toe). They got back Kenyon Martin on Monday after he missed the last five games with a strained abdominal muscle.
“We played a quarter and a half without Melo the other night and guys stepped up and did what they had to do, so I don’t think that has anything to do with it,” Woodson said. “It’s nice to have Melo in a uniform, it makes life a little bit easier, but still, these guys, I have to get them ready to play and they have to play at a high level.”