No Melo, no problem. High-scoring New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony wasn’t available for the team’s Wednesday game against the struggling Detroit Pistons, but that didn’t faze the Knicks that much, as they emerged victorious, 87-77, in a strong defensive effort.
With Anthony injured, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson went with grizzled veteran Kurt Thomas as the team’s starting power forward; Thomas, 40, who is currently in his 17th NBA season, went scoreless in only four minutes on the court. Point guard Raymond Felton led the Knicks with 26 points, while Amar’e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith scored 22 and 20 points respectively off the bench. The Pistons, who missed centers Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond due to injury, were led by Brandon Knight with 17 points.
The Knicks are apparently taking it easy on their top scorer, who admitted having some knee problems over the past few weeks. Though an MRI showed no structural damage to Anthony’s knee, the forward said after a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, that he “felt like (he) was dragging it” and didn’t quite feel right after aggravating his knee injury in the first half. Speaking to WFAN, Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said that the team “is going to try to be smart about it and we’re not going to rush (Anthony) along if we don’t think it’s appropriate.”
Woodson, for his part, expressed surprise upon realizing that Anthony asked to be taken out of the Cleveland game due to his sore knee. “Melo was hurt,” said Woodson in an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco. ”For him to ask me to come out of the game before he actually took that spill made me realize that something wasn’t right. (Prior to Monday’s game) He’s never ever, ever, even hinted about coming out of the game.”
Anthony remains questionable for tonight’s game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. With the win, the Knicks improved to 37-21, good for second in the Eastern Conference. The Thunder are currently at 44-16 and second in the Western Conference playoff hunt.