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Carmelo Anthony hopes to return to action against Hawks

Carmelo Anthony participated in almost all of the

Carmelo Anthony participated in almost all of the Knicks' practice on Thursday and hopes to be in the lineup Saturday night against the Hawks. Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Carmelo Anthony’s extended Christmas break soon should be coming to an end.

Anthony missed Wednesday night’s 91-84 loss at Cleveland while recovering from an ankle sprain suffered on Monday night against the Magic. He also will have a rare Christmas off; the Knicks are not part of the NBA’s nationally televised marquee lineup for the first time since 2008.

But he spent Christmas Eve practicing with the Knicks, hoisting jumpers after nearly all of his teammates had left the court. Anthony said he was feeling better and seemed convinced that he will be able to play on Saturday night in Atlanta.

“As of right now, I’ll go,” Anthony said. “Felt good today to work out, moving around. Felt good.”

With a stretch of three games in four nights starting on Saturday night, Anthony elected to rest the ankle rather than push it against the Cavaliers. It was the second game that he missed this season; illness kept him out of the Knicks’ 116-111 loss to the Rockets on Nov. 30.

Derek Fisher said Anthony participated in “probably 90 percent of the things we did today” at Thursday’s practice but was held out of some contact drills.

“I wouldn’t say necessarily expecting, but hopefully trending in that direction,” Fisher said when asked if he expects to have Anthony available on Saturday night. “He’s normally been a pretty quick healer. So hopefully with the rest of today and tomorrow, 48 hours is a long time. Hopefully he can get some rest and be ready to go.”

Even without Anthony, the Knicks managed to stay with the Cavaliers, who had their Big Three of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving on the court. But without Anthony to shoulder the scoring load in the fourth quarter, the Knicks were held to 12 points.

Despite the loss, Anthony was impressed with his team’s ability to compete with the defending Eastern Conference champions.

“We was right there with them,” he said. “I thought we had a hell of a game, played a hell of a game. Maybe the last couple minutes of the game we could have played better. But overall I thought we did a great job. If they’re considered the best team in the East, then I like where we stand at right now.”

Notes & quotes: Fisher said Kyle O’Quinn, who has missed the last two games because of a sprained ankle, also might return in Atlanta. “Kyle worked hard today,” Fisher said. “Looked like he’s improving . . . Health has been in our favor this year so far. So if we can get those two guys back, we like our chances to be able to compete every night over the next couple of weeks.” . . . The Knicks will face the Hawks three times in an 11-day span. They play on Saturday night and then have a home-and-home in early January. “It’s unique,” Fisher said. “For our team, maybe it’s a good thing . . . We’re a new team in terms of working together, so playing against a team consecutive times maybe works for us to just keep getting some experience in playing together.”

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