LOS ANGELES -- Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler had time to chat with each other during practice Saturday, given that both were mostly spectators, and discussed the possibility that their knee injuries could help the Knicks in the long run.
The Knicks don't want to be without their two All-Stars, which they likely will be again when they face the Clippers Sunday. But Chandler said it's more important that they're as healthy as possible in April and for the playoffs.
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"We've had a long journey," Chandler said. "In the playoffs [last year] and the Olympics and this season, All-Star break until now -- it's a lot of basketball. I talked to him in practice and I was like, 'Now is a good time -- a blessing in disguise. It's a good time to get your body right for this grind we're going to go through in this last part of the season.' "
Chandler was speaking specifically about Anthony when he said that, but he said the same goes for him.
"Absolutely," he said. "It's important we're healthy in our minds and everything is right. Physically and mentally, we're ready to go. Like I said, it's going to be a blessing in disguise."
The Knicks, losers of three straight, still have to try to win games to maintain their Atlantic Division lead. It's down to one game over the Nets.
Anthony, who left the gym before the media entered, and Chandler officially are questionable for Sunday's game, but neither participated in practice at UCLA. Chandler said both will be back "the next couple of games."
Mike Woodson said he's preparing as if he won't have either Sunday. "We went through shootaround thinking that," he said. "We have to get these guys who are in uniform ready to play.
"Rest might be important," he added. "But I think the medical staff and those two guys will direct us in which way they want to go."
Anthony rejoined the Knicks (38-25) here after flying from Denver to New York on Thursday to have the fluid drained from the back of his right knee. Woodson said he shot around and did some range-of-motion work.
"Mentally, he seems in a good place, which is good," Chandler said. "Physically, I think that's going to come around, like I say, in a week."
Chandler said his bruised left knee feels better, although he still hasn't tried running. He's been examined by doctors but said he hasn't undergone any X-rays or MRIs. He said there is no structural damage but that it's sore and stiff and still has some swelling.
Sunday's game against the Clippers (45-21) will be the Knicks' fourth on this five-game trip, and they've lost the first three by a total of 67 points. The Knicks close it out Monday night in Utah. Because it's a back-to-back, Chandler made it sound as if he will play in only one of them.
"I've got to make the best decision for the long haul for the team," he said. "If I'm feeling good, I'll be out there. But I have to see in the morning."
Woodson said if neither plays, he will start the same way he did in Thursday's 105-90 loss to Portland -- with Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert in the backcourt and Chris Copeland, Kurt Thomas and Kenyon Martin up front.
Despite their recent struggles and injury issues, Chandler believes the Knicks, who have lost Amar'e Stoudemire and Rasheed Wallace to regular season-ending knee surgeries, have enough time and the personnel to turn things around heading to the playoffs.
"I feel like Melo will fully heal and be back over the next couple of games," Chandler said. "I know I will be back in the next couple of games. So we won with this lineup at the beginning of this year. That's when we went on our tear, and there's no reason why we can't get right back to that."