Knicks hope Kenyon Martin can make an impact defensively

Kenyon Martin of the Knicks looks on against

Kenyon Martin of the Knicks looks on against the Golden State Warriors. (Feb. 27, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

The next time Carmelo Anthony plays might be during next week's five-game western trip, which includes a stop in his old Denver stamping grounds Wednesday.

Anthony is questionable Saturday night against Utah with a sore right knee that has sidelined him the last two games and the final 30 minutes of Monday's win at Cleveland. Coach Mike Woodson repeatedly said Anthony is "day-to-day."

As the Knicks wait for Anthony to feel better, they also hope Kenyon Martin can continue to cure some other longstanding ills. He showed the skills and attitude the Knicks have been missing much of this season in Thursday night's 95-94 loss to the Thunder. In his first extended minutes as a Knick, Martin had four points and six fouls in 17 minutes. He also played tough, physical defense on Kevin Durant, twice delivering hard fouls to prevent layups.

"That's what he brings to the table," Woodson said. "That's what Rasheed [Wallace] and [Marcus] Camby bring to the table, Kurt [Thomas]. Those guys are old-school guys. They don't believe in guys coming to the rim and getting layups. So as we move up this road, Kenyon is going to be a factor for us defensively. That's why we are keeping him around."

Martin signed his second 10-day contract with the Knicks on Tuesday. After his performance against the Thunder, it would be surprising if the Knicks don't sign Martin for the rest of the season.

They've already lost Wallace to foot surgery. There also will be games when the Knicks, who didn't practice Friday, need more athleticism against some quicker teams, and Martin is a better fit than Camby or Thomas.

Martin could be an asset if the Knicks meet the Heat in the playoffs, whether it be guarding LeBron James or Chris Bosh or committing a hard, playoff-type foul.

"You've got to let them know it's basketball, it's a contact sport," Martin said. "We're going out there not trying to hurt anyone, just letting them know it's not going to be easy tonight. That's how I've always approached the game. That's how I'm going to continue to play."

Martin, the No. 1 pick in 2000, showed that he can make an impact despite not going through training camp and playing in only one other game this season: for five minutes with the Knicks on Feb. 27.

"I was ready to play against Cleveland, Washington, you name it, Detroit, it don't matter," Martin said. "To me, I just want to get minutes. I just want to go out and help my team win."

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