HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Wouldn’t you know it, one week after PopGate, the Miami Heat are hosting another TNT game, and the opponent might be without two of its stars.
We know that Amar’e Stoudemire is out at least until later this month, but now Carmelo Anthony may also miss Thursday’s matchup (8 p.m. ET) between the Knicks and Heat after lacerating the middle finger on his left hand in Wednesday’s win over the Bobcats.
Viv Bernstein of The New York Times has the story from Charlotte…
Anthony, who scored a team-high 23 points (3 in the second half), cut the middle finger on his left hand when he dived onto the Knicks’ bench to chase a loose ball after a Smith block with 2 minutes 10 seconds left.
Anthony needed five stitches to close a deep gash. Coach Mike Woodson said he believed Anthony would play Thursday, but Anthony hedged.
“I want to play against Miami,” Anthony said. “But at the end of the day I’ve got to do what’s right for my finger with the deep cut that it is. So we’ll see. Talk to the doc tomorrow, see how it feels.
“I think it’s just a matter of being able to feel the basketball, control the basketball, being able to catch.”
But Anthony, tongue in cheek, made clear he would be in the arena Thursday night.
“I’m not going on Southwest,” he joked, a reference to San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich, whose team was fined $250,000 by the N.B.A. after he sent four star players home during a road trip instead of playing them against the Heat. “I’m going to Miami.”
Thursday’s game is for first place in the Eastern Conference, which the Knicks now hold at 13-4. Anthony is an MVP candidate and obviously a huge part of the Knicks’ No. 2 ranked offense. They’ve scored 115.4 points per 100 possessions with Melo on the floor and just 97.7 with him on the bench.
The Knicks would love to win Thursday’s game and really prove that they have what it takes to beat the Heat. But if their start can’t handle the ball, they may have to wait for another day.