<
>

Woody: Melo's minutes won't wane

3/29/2014
There will be a lot resting on Carmelo Anthony's shoulders in the stretch run. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It doesn't sound like Mike Woodson plans to lighten Carmelo Anthony's load any time soon.

"He's not shown any [signs of] wearing down," Woodson said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show" on Friday. "If he told me he was tired and he needed to back off then, hey, I would do that, but Melo's trying to do everything he can to help this team make the playoffs. So I'm going to keep pushing him in that area, but if he tells me to back off then I'll back off."

Don't count on Anthony telling Woodson to back off.

When asked about playing 40 minutes in the Knicks' blowout loss to Phoenix on Friday, Anthony told reporters, "I ain't got no choice."

Listen to the complete interview:

PlayAnthony has been the one constant for the Knicks in a year marred by inconsistent play. He's posting a career high in rebounds and near career highs in field-goal percentage, 3-point shooting percentage and scoring.

But there's a fear Woodson may be running Anthony into the ground as the Knicks enter the final month of the regular season. Anthony leads the NBA in minutes per game (38.9).

"He's logged a lot of minutes but if you looked at the players like Durant, Harden, those guys are all playing big minutes just like Melo," Woodson said.

That may be true. And Woodson is in a tough spot because the Knicks are chasing the final playoff spot in the East and he's coaching for his job. So he needs Anthony on the floor just as much as the rest of his teammates do.

But there is evidence to show that all of the minutes are taking a toll on Anthony.

Melo's shooting percentages decrease in each successive quarter of games and plummet in the fourth. He's shooting 47.8 percent from the floor in the first quarter but just 38.1 percent in the final quarter.

When presented with that evidence by Ryan Ruocco, Woodson said he has to play Anthony in the fourth quarter of close games.

But he kept Anthony on the floor with the Knicks down by 29 and six minutes to go in the fourth Friday in Phoenix. Anthony was hobbled by an ankle injury at the time. Woodson also played Anthony against the Lakers when the Knicks were down by 26 with 7:19 to go in the fourth quarter.

"We're a better team when he's on the floor, there's no doubt about that," Woodson said, defending his usage of Anthony. "On the flip side of that, I know he probably does need to rest so we could have him for the fourth quarter but that's a fine line."

It's a line Woodson seems to be comfortable crossing.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.