Injuries beginning to mount for Knicks

Marcus Camby (23) goes to the basket as

Marcus Camby (23) goes to the basket as the Indiana Pacers' David West (21) gives chase. (Jan. 10, 2013) (Credit: AP)

When Carmelo Anthony returned Friday night after a one-game suspension for confronting Kevin Garnett, he came back to a Knicks team that suddenly needs as many bodies as possible.

Obviously, the Knicks missed Anthony in their 81-76 loss at Indiana Thursday night in which scoring was a struggle. But for the first time all season, Mike Woodson and his players are talking about being undermanned.

The Knicks have been without Raymond Felton the past 2½ weeks because of a fractured right pinky and Rasheed Wallace for nearly a month with a foot injury. Now they'll be without Marcus Camby for two to four weeks after an MRI revealed he suffered a strained left plantar fascia Thursday.

All of this has taken a toll on the increasingly brittle Knicks, who had dropped four of six and seven of 12 heading into Friday night's game against the Bulls.

"It will be great to have a full deck, Raymond and everybody in uniform that we came into the season with to count on," Woodson said.

The Knicks survived the first 30 games minus Amar'e Stoudemire as he rehabbed from knee surgery, haven't had Iman Shumpert yet because of knee surgery and played six games without Anthony because of injuries. Yet the team's health hadn't been an issue until recently.

Although the Knicks went into last night only a half-game behind Miami for the best record in the Eastern Conference, they were only 1½ ahead of third-place Indiana and three up on the Atlantic Division rival Nets.

"Injuries occur," Woodson said. "We're still fighting to stay at the top so you got to go with what you have. We're maintaining right now."

With Felton sidelined, Jason Kidd, 39, has struggled with the increased workload. Now that Camby has joined Wallace in the rehab room, it might be time for the Knicks to check in on Kenyon Martin or another available power forward/center.

A league source said the Knicks haven't called about Martin to this point, and Woodson said they probably will stand pat, at least for now. But Tyson Chandler has been battling through ankle and neck issues, Stoudemire remains on a minutes restriction and the only other available big man is 40-year-old Kurt Thomas, who started Friday night.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to [general manager] Glen Grunwald and ownership about that," Woodson said. "Right now we're just going to sit tight and let it play out and see where we are."

If the Knicks don't make any moves -- they would have to cut or trade someone for a draft pick in order to sign anyone -- things would become easier if Stoudemire regained the form that made him an All-Star six times.

Before Friday night, Stoudemire was averaging 9.8 points and shooting 42.9 percent. He has had numerous attempts blocked or slapped away.

"We're still working off rust from not playing for nine months," he said. "We still got a long time to build and come back, so that's going to come. My legs are there. My explosiveness is there. It's all timing and repetition and actual experience of getting back on the basketball court."

It was a positive sign that Stoudemire played both ends of the back-to-back in his sixth game since returning from surgery. But Woodson has had to limit his minutes.

"I think his bigger steps are going to come as his minutes grow," Woodson said. "Amar'e's used to playing 30 minutes a ballgame. As his minutes grow and he starts to get in better shape, he'll be fine."

Notes & quotes:Woodson said it hasn't been decided whether Shumpert will go to London with the Knicks next week or stay back and practice with the Knicks' D-League team. "I don't know if it's fair for him to make that trip for just one practice or possibly do the D-League," Woodson said. "We're going to discuss that [Saturday] and see which way we go with that."

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