The New York Knicks plan to ride out the rest of this disappointing season with Carmelo Anthony, but their intentions to get a new face at point guard through the trade market apparently took a hit with an injury to Iman Shumpert.
New York looks to win back-to-back games for the first time this month by beating the host Orlando Magic for the ninth consecutive time Friday night.
With Anthony set on testing free agency this coming offseason, rumors swirled that the struggling Knicks (21-33) may look to deal their star in order to guarantee something in return instead of getting nothing should he sign elsewhere.
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Neither side gave credence to those rumors as the trade deadline approached, though. Anthony won’t be going anywhere just yet, but Shumpert reportedly was a key piece to a deal that would have brought Darren Collison from the Los Angeles Clippers to New York.
Shumpert suffered a knee injury in Wednesday’s 98-91 win over New Orleans, putting on hold any trade that also reportedly would have sent Raymond Felton to the Clippers.
An MRI revealed Shumpert has a sprained MCL, and he’s expected to miss about two weeks.
"They said my ACL’s fine," said Shumpert, who tore that ligament as a rookie in the 2012 playoffs. "That was my biggest concern."
Anthony, meanwhile, has done his best to keep the Knicks a player in the Eastern Conference playoff race. He scored 42 points Wednesday, including two key jumpers down the stretch, and is averaging 32.0 over his last 12.
J.R. Smith added 19 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 16 off the bench for the Knicks, who had lost six of seven. Amare Stoudemire rested his sore left knee.
"We have the talent. We just got to put it all together," Anthony said. "I don’t think the talent was ever questioned before, but we have to put it all together."
Anthony has scored more than 25 points only once in the past eight meetings with Orlando, but New York won them all, and he’s averaged 19.5 in two matchups this season. The Knicks had seven players score in double figures in a 121-83 win Dec. 6 and six had at least 10 points in a 103-98 win Dec. 23.
Aaron Afflalo totaled 46 points in those games for the Magic (16-40), who have lost three straight after falling 101-93 to Cleveland on Wednesday. Afflalo finished with 23 points, but Orlando trailed by 15 after scoring a season-low 11 points in the first quarter and couldn’t recover.
"It’s just tough because of the amount of energy and the amount of mental stress that you put on yourself to get back into the game," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Then, when you get there you have to be able to handle that position as well. We fight uphill and get back to nearly even and then you have to face the challenge of getting stops and scoring as well."
The Magic have trailed at the end of the first quarter in seven of their last eight while finishing tied in the other.
"We just came out very slow at the start and defensively we weren’t doing the right things," said Nikola Vucevic, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds for his seventh double-double in 10 games. "You just can’t start games like that and win."
Orlando reportedly listened to trade offers for Afflalo, Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis leading up to the trade deadline. Nelson needs seven points to pass Shaquille O’Neal for fourth on the Magic’s all-time scoring list.