GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Is something wrong with Carmelo Anthony's left shoulder?
It's hard not to wonder when you consider that the Knicks forward has gone 35-for-110 from the floor (31.8 percent), including 2-for-22 from three-point range, in his last four games. But Anthony and coach Mike Woodson insisted yesterday that the shoulder is fine, that it has nothing to do with the fact that it took him 28 shots to score 27 points in the Knicks' 102-95 loss to the Pacers on Sunday in Game 1 of their second-round series.
"My shoulder's all right," said Anthony, who had his left arm pop out of its shoulder socket twice during the Knicks' first-round series against the Celtics.
When asked how it might be affecting Anthony, Woodson said: "If it is, I don't know anything about it. Melo has never been one to complain. He just plays.
"Is he playing the same that he's played? He's having a hell of a season. We're in the second round. I feel good about our chances of getting out of this round with him on the floor. Everybody's got to play better. It's just not Melo. I'm not putting it on Melo's head. This is a team."
It also is a team that would be nowhere without Anthony's shooting skills. He won the NBA scoring title by averaging 28.7 points and nearly 45-percent shooting in the regular season, then averaged 33.0 points in the Knicks' first four playoff games. But in the last three games, beginning with Game 5 of the Boston series -- during which his shoulder first popped when Kevin Garnett tugged on it -- Anthony has averaged 23.3 points.
After Sunday's Game 1 loss, point guard Raymond Felton accused the Pacers of going after Anthony's shoulder. "They're being really physical with Melo," he said. "They're banging him, they're hitting him, they're going at his shoulder."
Anthony, however, said his teammates are just being protective and that he can take whatever punishment the big, brawny Pacers dish out.
"I'm fine," he said. "I'm bruised up, beat up, all year long. As far as those guys targeting the shoulder, I can't worry about that. This is the playoffs.
"I feel like the shots that I take I can make. You might think differently or somebody else might think differently. But I feel like those shots I can make and I've been making. I'm going to keep shooting. I'm going to keep trying to win the basketball game, doing what I've got to do, keep attacking. And we'll be a much better team come tomorrow."
Anthony, who was in foul trouble in Game 1 and took only six free throws, was asked if he's getting respect from the officials.
"I guess I've got to earn my respect," he said. "I don't know. It gets frustrating sometimes out there but I try not to let that negativity sink in. I'm just playing, man. I'm going to keep attacking. My game plan is not going to change. They call it, they do; if not, so be it."