Knicks hope to have Anthony, Rose vs. Nuggets (Dec 17, 2016)
Carmelo Anthony returns to the roots of his NBA career on Saturday night. Whether he will be in uniform is uncertain.
Anthony's New York Knicks (14-12) wrap up their five-game road trip against the Denver Nuggets but the star forward's status is questionable going into the game. He was a late scratch in Thursday's 103-90 loss at Golden State due to a right shoulder injury.
Before the injury, Anthony had talked about sitting out games to rest, a practice that has gained popularity among NBA coaches in recent years. Earlier this week the reigning champs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, didn't bring stars LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on a one-game road trip to Memphis.
"I think everyone needs a rest day, to be honest with you," Anthony told Newsday. "I think if you're an NBA player, professional athlete, you need a rest day. It's a matter of when you take it, how you take it. The decision is not just mine, it's a collective as a whole. Whatever is the best situation for that individual."
Derrick Rose (lower back injury) also missed the game against the Warriors. New York trailed by as many as 25 before making it a respectable score in the fourth quarter.
Nuggets fans hope Anthony suits up for his one trip to Pepsi Center, where he cut his professional teeth. He was the third overall pick in 2003 and helped Denver (10-16) reach the playoffs in each of his seven full seasons with the team and the Western Conference finals in 2009.
The Nuggets traded him to New York in February 2011 in a 10-player, three-team blockbuster deal. Only Anthony remains with the Knicks while Denver still has Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler on the roster from the trade.
Not only are they on the roster, they are, for the time being, starting together. Coach Michael Malone had been bringing Chandler off the bench when Gallinari is healthy, but after Denver's recent struggles he had them on the floor together from the opening tip.
Malone also put Nikola Jokic back at center to start and Gary Harris at shooting guard in his return to the lineup.
It worked out well. Gallinari scored 27 points and Wilson Chandler 17 as Denver scored 38 points in the first quarter against Portland on Thursday night and never trailed in beating the Trail Blazers by 12.
"Those guys responded," Malone said after the game.
The Nuggets snapped a three-game home losing streak with the victory and want to build on that with a game against the Knicks. New York is 2-2 on the road trip, but if Anthony and Rose do not play it will make it tougher to finish the Western Conference swing with a winning mark.
Anthony said he hurt his shoulder against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and when he went through drills Thursday morning the pain was too much.
"When I was doing workouts and not being full strength, there was no way I could get out there (Thursday) night," Anthony told Newsday.
Rose missed two games last week with the back injury and aggravated it in Phoenix on Tuesday. Before the game against Golden State he sounded hopeful he could return Saturday.
"Just got to be smart about it," he told Newsday. "It's frustrating as hell, but just have to be smart about it. It's improving, but it's not where I want it to be, so I'm looking for hopefully playing in Denver."