DALLAS - Carmelo Anthony's back was causing him such severe pain Monday night that not only was walking an issue, but he could barely talk.
That was the grim picture J.R. Smith painted of Anthony, who left Toyota Center in Houston wincing and walking gingerly from the back spasms he experienced during the Knicks' 91-86 loss to the Rockets.
The Knicks officially are calling Anthony doubtful for Wednesday against Tyson Chandler and the Mavericks. But Smith said he's "absolutely'' concerned that the Knicks' best player will be out for a while.
"Being able to fight through something like that is extremely hard to do,'' Smith said after Tuesday's practice at Moody Coliseum on the campus of SMU. "Your back is messed up. It controls everything. So you can't run. You can barely walk. In his case, [Monday] night he could barely talk. We're here with him. We just have to figure out a way to do it without him.''
When asked about Anthony barely speaking, Smith said: "He said very few words. You could just tell the pain he was in.''
Smith speaks from experience. He had back spasms in the preseason, but apparently his weren't as bad. Smith didn't miss any games. He left an exhibition game in Syracuse but returned. He said he experienced discomfort for about two weeks.
Anthony was doubled over in pain late in the first half Monday before walking off the court very slowly. He never came back and was seen wincing in the locker room after the game. He chose not to speak to reporters.
Before the Knicks (4-11) flew to Dallas, they stopped at a 24-hour emergency care facility to get pain medication, a team spokesman said. Anthony stayed back at the hotel and was getting treatment while the Knicks practiced.
"We don't know enough to really diagnose where he is and where he's headed before another day or so,'' Derek Fisher said. "Back spasms aren't really something that you can push or rush. Until you can actually play without being in spasm, there isn't anything you can really do. Hopefully, that will be soon. His back will be the only indicator of how soon that can be. I don't think there's anything we can necessarily do to rush that right now.''
After Wednesday night's game, the Knicks will close out the trip Friday in Oklahoma City. They've been inconsistent offensively even with Anthony, fifth in the NBA in scoring with 23.2 points per game.
Without Anthony, the Knicks probably will rely on Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire to pick up some of the scoring. Smith said Stoudemire will be the "mule'' but that everyone has to do more.
"I think we all do collectively, if anything,'' Smith said. "Right now, I think our mule will be [Stoudemire]. If anything, I think we should put that on him. Do I need to step my game up on offense? Yeah, absolutely. But at the same time, we've got a lot of pieces, so we'll see.''
The Knicks needed someone to lift them down the stretch against Houston. They led by six with 8:51 remaining but scored only eight points the rest of the way. Fisher said he's looking forward to seeing who will step up.
"It's just how we do things in a way that gives us a chance to win,'' he said. "So if Carmelo is not playing, then sometimes it's easier for guys . . . [because] they don't have a guy that they can bail themselves out with on the floor. So then they have to be better. So we'll see how guys respond to it if that's what is.''