Carmelo Anthony won't return to Denver this season, but on Saturday night, Danilo Gallinari will make his first Madison Square Garden appearance since the mammoth trade last February.

Knicks fans probably will react much differently to Gallinari than Denver's faithful would for Anthony because he forced his way out. Gallinari never wanted to leave New York. There probably are some in the Knicks' organization who wish he never did.

The Knicks envisioned an Anthony-Amar'e Stoudemire pairing as the beginning of a superstar nucleus that could compete with Miami's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

But at least for now, it hasn't worked out for the Knicks as well as it has for the Heat -- or even the Nuggets.

Since the trade, including the playoffs, the Nuggets are 30-16 and the Knicks are 20-27. They also have had chemistry issues, making most observers say Denver got the better of the trade.

"You can't compare our team to Denver's team," Anthony said. "They got five starters from that trade. Denver's a hell of a team. They're one of the deeper teams in the NBA right now. We just want to go out and win. It's not about Denver. It's much more about us."

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The Knicks sent Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, a No. 1 pick, two No. 2s and $3 million to Denver for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter.

Only Gallinari, who scored 21 points in Friday night's victory over the Wizards, and Mozgov remain in Denver. Felton was shipped to Portland for Andre Miller and Chandler is playing in China. The Nuggets retain his rights and could sign him when the Chinese Basketball Association season ends in February or March.

Anthony and Balkman are the lone Knicks left from the trade. The Knicks waived Billups to make room for Tyson Chandler and have missed having a playmaking point guard to run the pick-and-roll in Mike D'Antoni's offense.

Felton was very adept at that and he and Stoudemire had great chemistry. Stoudemire was having an MVP-type year early last season, but he has struggled to get and make shots this season. He was averaging 18.3 points and shooting 40.8 percent before Friday.

"I take it as a must-win for us," Anthony said of the Denver game. "Me personally, I have nothing to prove in the game. I spent 7½ years in Denver. I did a lot in Denver. I have nothing to prove. I just want to win the basketball game."