Sore knee could ruin Carmelo Anthony's return to Denver

Carmelo Anthony drives the ball against Golden State

Carmelo Anthony drives the ball against Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson during the first half of a game in Oakland, Calif. (March 11, 2013) (Credit: AP)

DENVER -- Carmelo Anthony is more concerned about his bothersome right knee than what kind of reaction he will receive from the Denver crowd Wednesday night. It seems the Knicks are too.

Anthony said his knee is still stiff and it's possible he will have the fluid drained after essentially ruling that out Monday.

"We're talking about it," Anthony said. "I'm pretty sure the team doctors are going to sit down and talk about it, see what the options are, figure it out. That's the last option, getting the knee drained. I have to weigh all the options and see what happens after that. How much time I'm going to have to take off after getting the knee drained."

Anthony, who will play at Pepsi Center Wednesday night for the first time as a visitor, said he hasn't been told how long he would miss if he had the knee drained.

Mike Woodson called Anthony "probably probable" for Wednesday night. He will be re-evaluated after the game and might not play Thursday night in Portland. That would give Anthony three days to rest before the Knicks play the Clippers on Sunday.

"We've got to evaluate him closely as we go down this road," Woodson said. "And he's going to have a lot to do with that in terms of giving us the guidelines on how he's feeling. If he's hurting, then we need to back off and probably rest him. I'm going to do what he wants done. Because again this is still a marathon and we still have a long way to go."

When Woodson was asked if Anthony would have to play with this for the rest of the season, he said, "I hope not."

Anthony returned Monday after sitting out the previous three games and shot 4-for-15 in the Knicks' 92-63 loss at Golden State. He clearly wasn't himself.

Afterward, Anthony said there was "no pain -- just irritation, agitating, aggravating." He used similar words following practice Tuesday.

"It's just frustrating, aggravating for me to know that I have this lingering and it's not getting no better, it's not getting no worse," Anthony said.

The Knicks already have lost Amar'e Stoudemire for the rest of the regular season after a procedure to clean out his right knee Monday. Anthony contends he won't need an operation after the season.

As much as Anthony is downplaying his return to Denver, where he spent the first 71/2 years of his career, he probably wishes he was at his best against his old team, which is 28-3 and has won 13 in a row at home.

Anthony led the Nuggets to seven straight playoff appearances and one Western Conference finals before forcing a trade to the Knicks in February 2011. He said it was a "mutual agreement" and "a business decision," because Denver was rebuilding.

But the Nuggets have done well since Anthony left, compiling a 99-57 regular-season record and have won four playoff games. In that same time, the Knicks are 89-67 with one postseason victory.

Although he's not 100 percent right now, Anthony said he can lead the Knicks to the same success he enjoyed in Denver. "We will," Anthony said. "It takes time. I know my knee is going to get better. I'm not too concerned about that. It's nothing too serious. It's just something nagging right now that I got to get through.

"But we still believe that we're one of the best teams out there. We have to believe that. We're still sitting in a good spot in the Eastern Conference. At the end of the day, when it comes down to the playoffs, this whole regular-season thing will be forgotten."

It will depend on the health of Anthony's knee.

Foul reduced. The NBA downgraded the flagrant foul 2 on J.R. Smith from Monday night to a flagrant one.

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