NEW YORK — It’s a good thing that the New York Knicks have already proven that they can win without Carmelo Anthony, because they may have to do just that.
After lacerating his finger in the Knicks 100-98 win over the Charlotte Bobcats back on Dec. 5, Anthony missed the next two games. Without Anthony, the Knicks soundly defeated the Miami Heat, 112-92 on Dec. 6 before dropping their next game—a 93-85 decision at the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 8.
On Thursday night, the Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers by a final score of 116-107, but they were forced to play the final 19 minutes without Anthony.
With 6:54 remaining in the third quarter, Anthony was fouled by Dwight Howard. Anthony was airborne and he landed awkwardly on his back with his left leg underneath him. He was slow to get up and didn’t return.
After shooting his free throws, Anthony retreated to the Knicks locker room. Later during the game, it was announced that Anthony had a sprained left ankle and would not return.
Anthony, who has played MVP caliber ball this season, got off to a blistering start, hitting eight of his first nine shots and scoring 22 points in the first quarter. The Knicks led by as many as 26 points in the first half and were up by 17 when Anthony left the game.
But without him, the Knicks offense became a bit stagnant and the Lakers were able to chip away at the lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers got the lead down to 10 on a Dwight Howard layup with about seven minutes remaining but mostly traded baskets until a late rally cut the deficit to six with 1:30 to play.
Ultimately, though, the Knicks were able to hold on thanks in large part to J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler. The duo combined to score 17 fourth-quarter points for the Knicks and enabled them to withstand the combined 19 fourth- quarter points scored by Bryant and Metta World Peace.
Down the stretch, the Lakers missed a few timely perimeter looks and Chandler had two consecutive offensive rebounds with the Knicks nursing its six point lead in the game’s final 90 seconds. That all but sealed the Lakers fate.
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