CHICAGO -- Carmelo Anthony's lacerated left middle finger kept him out of a second straight game Saturday night, but he's pointing to a return Sunday night when the Denver Nuggets, his old team, visit the Garden. "That's my plan," he said. "I didn't want to test it out on a back-to-back when I could get a couple more hours."

Anthony worked out before Saturday night's game and said the cut on his finger, which required five stitches to close Wednesday night in Charlotte, was feeling much better. But he knew he wasn't going to face the Bulls. He took the advice of Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd, both of whom told him to sit out until the team returns to New York, and said his decision had nothing to do with the Nuggets being the team they're facing.

"I didn't really have no plans of coming back this trip, so soon," he said. "Get as many hours as I can get, I'd rather take . . . You got to be smart. We haven't even played 20 games. I didn't want to have a setback."

Anthony said he still has trouble catching the ball and isn't comfortable dribbling. He's supposed to have the stitches taken out in about a week.

Amar'e Stoudemire continues to work toward his return; he shot and ran at the Knicks' shootaround and before the game.

The Knicks play their next eight games in New York -- one of them in Brooklyn -- every other day. So there should be chances for Stoudemire to practice once he's cleared, which could occur in this 15-day stretch in which they're home. "Games are coming too quickly, so we've just got to do things on the fly once he's released and ready to go," Mike Woodson said.

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Three for allWoodson got testy after being asked about the Knicks' shooting 85 three-pointers in the previous two games (they hit 31). The Knicks entered Saturday leading the NBA in three-point tries (29.7 per game) and makes (12.1), and their 40.7 percent accuracy ranked third. They went 8-for-23 against the Bulls.

"We've only been out of one game, and that was the Houston game," Woodson said. "So yes, we are going to continue to shoot threes. We'll continue to mix it up and post Melo, our bigs a little bit with Rasheed [Wallace] in the game to slow it down there. I think we've got a nice mixture of what we do offensively and I'm not going to change."

Just about one-quarter of the season has passed, as the Knicks (14-5) will play their 20th game Sunday night. Their best records after 20 games were 19-1 (1969-70), 17-3 (1972-73) and 15-5 (1970-71, '93-94, 95-96).