Andrea Bargnani’s failed dunk is costing him more than his pride, and it’s only added to the New York Knicks’ injured list.
So far, the Charlotte Bobcats are doing just fine without leading scorer Kemba Walker.
With Bargnani out indefinitely, the Knicks will try to snap a five-game slide when they host the Bobcats on Friday night.
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New York (15-27) is already dealing with an injury-riddled frontcourt, as Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin are nursing sore ankles while Metta World Peace is out with a sore left knee.
Bargnani was added to the list after he tore a ligament in his left elbow when he crashed to the floor after awkwardly driving the lane and attempting a dunk in a 110-106 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The injury leaves the Knicks without their second leading scorer at 13.3 points per game. However, it’s the team’s defensive play that has been a major problem over the last five games, as New York has given up an average of 109.4 points on 48.0 percent shooting – 39.5 from 3-point range.
"We’ve got to believe that we can win a game," coach Mike Woodson said.
New York has dropped the first three on an eight-game homestand and is 7-15 at Madison Square Garden, losing seven of 10.
"I really don’t know what it is, why we can’t play well on our own home court," forward Carmelo Anthony said. "This should be the time where we gain some momentum, gain some confidence as a team playing here on our own home court, but that don’t seem like it’s the case right now."
Anthony is doing his part, leading the team with 26.1 points per game and a career-best 9.0 rebounds while averaging an NBA-high 39.2 minutes.
Anthony, voted to his seventh All-Star game Thursday, is averaging 29.9 points over his past 10 home games, and he’s managed 29.5 in his last four against the Bobcats (19-25) at MSG.
The Knicks fell 102-97 in the most recent matchup there Nov. 5, and they’ve split two visits to Charlotte since.
Walker, a native of the Bronx, has powered the Bobcats with 25 points in all three meetings while shooting 45.6 percent. However, he won’t get a chance to continue troubling his hometown team as he’s out with a sprained ankle.
Al Jefferson is a big reason why the Bobcats have won both games without Walker, who’s scoring 18.7 per game. Jefferson is averaging 26.2 points and 12.5 boards in the last six games, a stretch that started with a season-high 35-point performance in a 108-98 victory over the Knicks on Jan. 14.
He came up big again Wednesday, scoring 24 and grabbing 10 rebounds in a 95-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. That effort came opposite All-Star Blake Griffin, so he may be poised to capitalize on the Knicks’ ailing frontcourt.
"He is showing his versatility," coach Steve Clifford said. "He is getting the ball closer to the basket more consistently. I think it is the extra work he is doing to strengthen his ankle. He can pivot on both feet now."
The Bobcats have won a league best-tying 11 games by six points or less, but this one may not be that close with the Knicks having lost three straight at home by an average of 13.6 points.