NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Carmelo Anthony missed his first game of the season on Wednesday, and the Knicks struggled mightily in his absence.
New York hasn’t played well at all this season, to be fair, but it was noncompetitive without Melo on the floor, losing to Oklahoma City by 29 on Christmas Day.
The small forward, who sprained his left ankle in the Knicks’ 103-98 win over Orlando on Monday, might not return this weekend, according to the New York Post.
The ‘Bockers will take on the Raptors on Friday at Madison Square Garden and then will play the Atlantic Division leaders again the next night in Toronto.
Melo was a game-time decision on Wednesday. He was cleared by the team’s medical staff, but decided not to play because of soreness.
“I don’t know, I really don’t,” head coach Mike Woodson said in regard to Anthony’s status following Wednesday’s defeat. “We’ll assess it (on Thursday) before practice and see where we are.”
Tyson Chandler, for one, wasn’t surprised that the six-time NBA All-Star missed Wednesday’s game.
“I kind of knew Melo wasn’t going to be able to go,” the center said, according to the New York Post. “He turned it good last game. I don’t know anything about X-rays, MRIs. I think he’ll be all right. I figured he’d be a little sore with only a day’s rest, and he flew back, and normally you get swelling.”
Shooting guard J.R. Smith became the Knicks’ go-to scorer with Anthony sidelined. He scored 20 points, but was just 8-for-22 from the field.
“He is a big piece to the puzzle,’’ Smith said. “He is the piece to the puzzle, so it is tough.”
Was Smith pressing without the league’s second-leading scorer on the floor?
“When that happens, there is no one individual that will be able to pick up the scoring,” Chandler said, according to the newspaper. “It has to be a team thing.”
The Knicks dropped to 9-19 with the loss. They are now tied with the Nets for third in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference.
“He was really missed because he is a big part of what we do,” Woodson said.
The 2013 NBA scoring champion is averaging 26.3 points, 2.8 assists and 8.8 rebounds in 39.4 minutes per game.