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Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Knicks need Melo, and here's why ...

By Ian Begley

Facts are facts. The Knicks have been a bad basketball team with and without Carmelo Anthony.

But they've been particularly awful when Anthony is not in uniform. Just take a look at the numbers: Anthony has missed the past three games due to a left ankle injury. In that span, the Knicks are 0-3 and have been outscored by 18.7 points per 48 minutes.

Anthony
Anthony
In the 27 games Anthony has suited up for, New York has been outscored by three points per 48 minutes. Mike Woodson's club has been outscored by a combined 67 points since his superstar left last Monday's game against Orlando with a left ankle sprain. So the Knicks' resolution for 2014 is simple: Get Anthony back on the court.

The All-Star forward practiced in full on Tuesday for the first time in seven days. He's officially listed as probable for Thursday's game against San Antonio.

"There’s still some things lingering. But each day it’s getting better," he said after Monday's practice. "Eventually I’ll have to play with a little bit of tenderness, a little bit of pain here and there."

That isn't an ideal situation, but having Anthony on the floor at less than 100 percent is better than no Anthony at all. He's the third-leading scorer in the NBA (26.8 ppg) and grabbing nearly nine rebounds per game.

The Knicks (9-21) aren't deep enough to survive without that kind of production. New York is scoring nearly five more points per 100 possessions when Anthony's in uniform, and the club's allowing 13 more points per 100 possessions with Anthony out.

To be clear, none of this is to suggest that Anthony's return will be some kind cure-all for the Knicks. After all, they went 9-18 in games Anthony was healthy for. And Anthony isn't the only injury impacting the team at the moment. Raymond Felton (groin) and Pablo Prigioni (toe) will miss the next three games -- at least.

Injuries, of course, have impacted the team all year.

Tyson Chandler was out for six weeks with a broken right fibula. Felton has missed 13 of the Knicks' 30 games, and Metta World Peace will be out until at least mid January following platelet-rich plasma therapy on his ailing left knee.

Those ailments are one reason the Knicks will start 2014 a season-high 12 games under .500 and 5 1/2 games out of first place in the awful Atlantic Division.

"This is not how I envisioned it. This is not how we envisioned it coming into this season," Anthony said Monday. "But it is what it is at this point. We can’t be crying about it. We’ve got to find a solution to it, got to take it one game at a time and figure it out."

Getting Anthony back on the floor would certainly help.

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