The New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) leaves the court...

The New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) leaves the court during the second quarter of an NBA game against the Houston Rockets Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Houston. Credit: AP / David J. Phillip

Carmelo Anthony was doubled over and wincing late in the first half before slowly walking off the court and into the locker room. Nearly two hours later, he still was grimacing and walking very gingerly as he left the arena.

Back spasms left Anthony in serious pain in the Knicks' 91-86 loss to the Rockets Monday night.

According to a Knicks spokesman, Anthony had to go to a local doctor in Houston to get pain medication that wasn't available in the arena. The Knicks said he was expected to fly with the team to Dallas, where they will face the Mavericks Wednesday night.

Clearly these are all bad signs for the Knicks, as was Anthony's decision not to speak to the media afterward. Anthony, who scored 14 points despite leaving with 1:45 to go in the first half, usually is very accommodating and honest with reporters.

"Back spasms is basically what we understand it to be right now," Derek Fisher said. "I'm sure we'll find out more in the next 24 to 48 hours. Back spasms are tough to deal with. I've never experienced them myself. It's not comfortable at all. But I'm sure Carmelo will be back with us as soon as he possibly can."

Several Rockets doctors and Houston's trainer spent time in the Knicks' locker room after the game. The locker room stayed closed as Anthony showered and dressed. But the doors swung open at one point and he looked to be in severe pain.

Anthony revealed last week that his left knee has been bothering him since the second game of the season. This was the first mention of any back issues. It seems unlikely that he will play Wednesday night.

This was his first time at Toyota Center since the Rockets rolled out the red carpet for him during free agency in July, when images of him in a Rockets jersey were displayed outside the arena as hope filled the inside of the building. Now the Knicks are hoping Anthony won't miss extended action. "It looks like it's always something going," said Jose Calderon, who returned two games ago from a calf strain. "We cannot be full with everybody at the same time."

The Knicks, who remain without Andrea Bargnani, battled without Anthony. They erased a 12-point deficit and went ahead by six with 8:51 left in the fourth. But they had no one to carry them down the stretch and had no one to stop James Harden.

Harden (36 points, six assists) led a game-ending 19-8 run and was responsible for all 19 points. He scored Houston's last 12 points and had three assists after the Knicks went up 78-72.

Houston (11-3) was without center Dwight Howard (right knee strain), starting point guard Patrick Beverley (hamstring) and starting power forward Terrence Jones (nerve inflammation in left leg). But the Rockets have handled adversity well -- unlike the Knicks.

After Iman Shumpert's runner tied it at 82, Harden scored nine straight points and gave Houston a 91-82 lead. His last six points were on free throws, but Amar'e Stoudemire didn't agree with the whistles and could get a call from the league office.

"Down the stretch, it was as if an angel came down and started calling calls for him," Stoudemire said. "I just don't see how he was getting those foul calls."

Given Anthony's health, the Knicks might need some help from above themselves.


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