DENVER -- Carmelo Anthony's return to Denver went worse than he, Tyson Chandler and the Knicks could have imagined. Now it's unclear when Anthony will return to the Knicks.
Anthony left in the third quarter of the Knicks' 117-94 blowout defeat to the Nuggets because he said "he couldn't move." He will fly to New York Thursday to get the fluid drained out of his troublesome right knee. There is no word on how much time he will miss.
"I think it's just time for me to give it some time and get to the bottom of it as soon as possible," Anthony said. "I'm just going to go get it drained, get the fluid out, get to the bottom of it quick so I can get back on the court."
Chandler injured his left knee in the second quarter. His injury doesn't appear as serious, but he left the locker room limping noticeably. It would be surprising if he plays Thursday night in Portland.
Anthony's health is the Knicks' main and immediate concern. His right knee has been bothering him for a month. Earlier in the week he ruled out having the fluid buildup in the back of his knee drained, but it was clear he had to do something.
He shot 3-for-12, including 0-for-5 from three-point range, and scored nine points in his first game back in Denver since forcing a trade to the Knicks in February 2011. He was 4-for-15 with 14 points in the Knicks' 29-point loss Monday night at Golden State.
"I was always concerned," Anthony said. "I was just kind of being naïve to myself and just trying to psyche myself out, saying, 'I can do it. I can do it.' There comes a point you've got to figure it out, get to the bottom of it and move on."
The Knicks are falling apart before everyone's very eyes.
They lost Amar'e Stoudemire for the rest of the regular season last week after undergoing right-knee surgery and now Chandler and Anthony -- the Knicks' two All-Stars and most important players -- are in bad shape.
The Knicks (38-24) lead the Atlantic Division, but only by 1 ½ games over the Nets. They could soon drop in the standings depending on how long Anthony and Chandler are out.
The Knicks said Chandler suffered a "contused left knee" after Corey Brewer backed into the side of his leg. Chandler was in serious pain. He fell to the floor, punched the court and stayed down for a while. Eventually, Chandler needed Kurt Thomas and Chris Copeland to help him to the locker room.
Mike Woodson called Chandler probable tonight. But Chandler, who said he doesn't want to have an X-ray, wasn't sure he would be able to play.
"I'm going to see," he said. "If I can give my team anything I'll be out there for them. I've just got to judge it in the morning. I feel like everything's fine. I'm just sore. If I can get up and down the floor then I'm going to suit up. If not, there's a reason for it."
With the Knicks without Anthony, Woodson will rely on J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Copeland to pick up the scoring. If they lose Chandler, who hasn't missed a game this season, Kenyon Martin, Thomas and presumably Marcus Camby will be pressed into more action.
But Camby hasn't played the last two games and was the only Knick in uniform not to enter last night.
Anthony received a mixture of cheers and jeers when he was introduced, but then he was booed every time he touched the ball until he left. In the fourth quarter, the Pepsi Center crowd chanted, "We want Melo," "Where is Melo?" and "Who needs Melo?"
This was the Knicks' second-straight lackluster performance on this five-game trip. The Nuggets (44-22) used a 21-1 run in the second quarter to take control of the game. They led by 34 points and won their 10th straight.
Iman Shumpert scored a season-high 20 and Smith had 15 off the bench for the Knicks.
"I didn't envision that," Anthony said. "I wanted to come back here at 100 percent, give the fans what they wanted to see, give Knicks fans what they wanted to see and help my teammates to a win but obviously we couldn't do that."