Carmelo Anthony returns to lineup

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony returned to the New York Knicks' lineup on Sunday night after missing two games with a lacerated left middle finger and helped lift New York to a 112-106 win over the Denver Nuggets, his former team.

Anthony started off slowly, missing 12 of his first 17 shots. But he hit five of seven in the fourth quarter, giving the Knicks (15-5) 11 pivotal points down the stretch of a close game.

"As the game went on, I started to feel more comfortable," Anthony said after scoring 34 points and pulling down six rebounds. "It was just a matter of trying to get a feel for the ball with the tape job and the splint on there. It is what it is."

Anthony tested the injury before tipoff and decided that he could take the floor for the first time since last Wednesday.

He said that the injury didn't affect his ability to dribble or catch passes. The only place the splint affected him was at the free-throw line.

He finished 11-for-16 from the line.

"I'm so used to feeling the basketball and getting control of the basketball that that feeling wasn't really there tonight," he said.

Anthony needed five stitches for the laceration, which he suffered while diving behind the Knicks bench for a loose ball last Wednesday in a win over Charlotte.
He feared that the stitches had opened up late in the game after he converted a tip-in and made a steal with his left hand.

"I thought that it was going to be busted open at that time but it was pretty good," he said.

In other Knicks injury news, reserve forward Rasheed Wallace was ruled out shortly before tipoff due to a sore left foot. Forward Marcus Camby missed his fourth straight game with plantar fascia in his left foot.

Woodson said that Wallace is day to day and his availability for the Knicks next game -- on Tuesday at Brookyln -- is uncertain.

The Knicks went 1-1 without Anthony, beating the defending champion Heat in Miami by 20 points last Thursday and suffering a loss to the Chicago Bulls on the road on Saturday.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.