Woody: I have to play Melo big minutes

It sounds like Carmelo Anthony should get used to playing big minutes for the rest of the season.

Mike Woodson said on Friday that he’s “got to” play Anthony nearly 40 minutes per game these days as the Knicks are try to climb back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. They enter play Saturday 4 ½ games behind Atlanta and Charlotte for the eighth seed in the conference.

"For us, right now, I've gotta play him because again, there's just no room for error,” Woodson said Friday in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s “The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show.” He continued: “We're trying to make the playoffs, man. So when I can rest him I will rest him. If I can't, I gotta play him and I think he understands that. He's never really complained and I've got to watch in this trench.”

Entering play Saturday, Anthony led the league in minutes played per game (39.1). He played 50 minutes in Friday’s double-overtime loss to Orlando.

Whether those minutes have impacted Anthony is open to debate. He’s the league’s second-leading scorer, but his field goal percentage drops in each successive quarter. He’s also struggled in several fourth quarters of recent Knicks losses.

Woodson said on Friday that he will try to be judicious with Anthony’s minutes when the Knicks are going through a congested portion of their scheduled. Saturday will be New York’s fourth game in five nights.

“Those are the times when you really gotta lock in an try to be open minded and not play him big minutes,” Woodson said. “But when the game's one the line, Melo's gotta be on the floor and I think he understands that.”

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