Carmelo Anthony worried about Knicks
"We're not playing with a high level of confidence right now," Anthony said on Sunday. "... I think we need to get back to that and get back to having fun."
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With Anthony sidelined, the Knicks (6-6) have struggled on both ends of the floor -- but particularly on offense.
Perceived to be a high-scoring club coming in to the season, they rank 18th in points per game (94.0) and 25th in assists (18.3). Coach Mike D'Antoni said they are suffering from a lack of cohesion, with spacing between Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler affecting Stoudemire's play at the offensive end.
Stoudemire enters play on Monday with an 18.7 points per game average; he is shooting just 41 percent from the field. Stoudemire scored 25.3 points per game on 50 percent shooting in his first season in New York.
"I think we're trying to find a relationship between (Stoudemire) and Tyson, trying to free up some room," D'Antoni said on Sunday. "I'm not worried about his game other than we need to get it straight as soon as we can. But that's (the same for) everybody."
The Knicks hope that injured point guard Baron Davis can participate in contact drills next week, though that is a "best-case" scenario, according to D'Antoni. Davis is expected to return to the court in late January or shortly thereafter.
In the meantime, the Knicks will rely on Anthony to get them going. The eight-year veteran is averaging 25 points per game and has surpassed the 30-point plateau four times this season. Regardless of whether he plays on Monday, Anthony hopes his teammates can loosen up against Dwight Howard and Orlando (8-3).
"I think everybody needs to relax out there, just play basketball," Anthony said. "At the end of the day, it looks like we're not having fun out there. And when you're not having fun out there on the basketball court, it makes everything that much tougher."
Anthony tested his sore right ankle by running in a pool on Sunday afternoon and planned to run on the court on Sunday evening.
He will be reevaluated prior to the Knicks' noon tipoff on Monday.
"It is what it is. It's sore, but if I can go I'm gonna go," Anthony said.
The small forward originally suffered the injury Thursday night during the third quarter of the Knicks' 94-83 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Anthony also sprained his left wrist on Thursday, but said that he can play through any pain associated with the injury.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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