Carmelo Anthony headed into the New York Knicks' marquee, nationally televised prime-time matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers ranked second in the NBA in points per game behind L.A. superstar Kobe Bryant, and given the way he came out of the gate on Thursday night, it looked like he intended to catch Bean in the first quarter:
Anthony was white-hot from jump, draining three 3-pointers before the game was three minutes old, hitting eight of his nine field-goal attempts and scoring 22 points in less than 12 minutes as the Knicks hung 41 on their Hollywood opponents to take a 14-point lead after the first quarter. New York shot 61.4 percent from the floor in the first half, hitting 8 of 14 long-distance tries and led L.A. 68-49 at halftime; with the Knicks getting anything they wanted offensively as the Laker defense continued to struggle to contain penetration and close out on shooters, the only way things seemed like they could go awry for gleeful Knicks fans was if someone got hurt.
Well, about that ...
Let's turn to our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute:
On a drive to the basket with the Knicks up 16 five minutes into the third quarter, Anthony was fouled hard by Lakers center Dwight Howard and landed awkwardly on his left ankle, his left knee seeming to buckle under him. Team medical personnel tended to him on the floor and he was slow to get up; he stayed in to shoot his free throws, making one of two, and was taken out of the game 13 seconds later. He was diagnosed with a sprained left ankle, did not return and was pronounced "day-to-day" by the Knicks.
Anthony finished with 30 points on 10-for-15 shooting in just under 23 minutes in the Knicks' 116-107 win over the Lakers and coach Mike D'Antoni, who was making his first return to Madison Square Garden after resigning as Knicks head coach in March.
True to form, our friends at the New York Post have a typically reserved and measured response to Anthony's injury on their Friday morning back page:
Despite that dramatic interpretation, Anthony didn't seem overly concerned after the game, according to Steve Popper of the Record of Bergen County, N.J.:
"I just took a hard fall," Anthony said. "It was one of those awkward falls. My knee, my ankle, is a little sore right now. That's it. They haven't tested it. [The doctors] did some manual stuff. Everything was there. Everything was good. [It's] real sore right now — ankle, knee, hip. It was the way I landed on the floor."
Anthony's ankle wasn't X-rayed after the game and he wasn't slated to undergo an MRI, according to Nate Taylor of the New York Times. Knicks coach Mike Woodson and general manager Glen Grunwald both told reporters they did not believe the injury was serious. Still, Anthony said after the game he is unsure if he will play in the Knicks' next game, a Saturday night affair at the Garden against Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Steve Novak all scored in double-figures for the Knicks, who shot 53.2 percent from the floor and made 12 of 25 3-point attempts to push their Eastern Conference-best record to 17-5 and run their undefeated home mark to 9-0. Bryant led the Lakers — now 9-14, losers of four straight — with 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 44 minutes. Metta World Peace added 23 points and six rebounds, while Howard chipped in 20 points and seven boards.
Hat-tip on the Post back page to ESPN's Rachel Nichols.