Carmelo Anthony grits his teeth during the fourth quarter of Knicks/Bobcats. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Carmelo Anthony's hand might not have been feeling 100 percent following his New York Knicks' too-close-for-comfort road win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night. But he was still feeling up to making jokes, which is about all you can ask for, really.
Anthony — who led the Knicks with 23 points in 38 minutes on Wednesday, but struggled from the floor, missing 14 of his 22 field-goal attempts — injured himself on this dive for a loose ball following a key J.R. Smith block on Bobcats center Bismack Biyombo with 2:10 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Knicks trailing Charlotte by two:
Knicks fans appreciate the hustle from Melo, who's made something of a habit of this recently, but were none too thrilled with the result — a deep cut on his left middle finger, sending him to the locker room for five stitches and knocking him out for the remainder of the game, which the Knicks won on an appropriately hilarious Smith game-winner.
Unfortunately for Knicks fans, the injury might also force Anthony out of the lineup for Thursday night's nationally televised TNT tilt against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, whom the Knicks beat handily in their first game of the season. Asked late Wednesday what his status for the rematch would be, Melo demurred, and then teed up a goof. From Frank Isola at the New York Daily News:
The finger on Anthony's non-shooting hand was heavily bandaged afterward, which makes him a game-time decision against LeBron James and the Heat.
"Right now, it's numb so I don't know," Anthony said [...]. "I'm not getting on Southwest. I'm going to Miami."
Anthony was, of course, referencing the decision made by San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to fly Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to Texas — on a commercial Southwest flight, natch — ahead of last Thursday's Heat-Spurs matchup. The coach's brazen choice drew the ire of NBA commissioner David Stern, who slapped the Spurs with a $250,000 fine for doing "a disservice to the league and our fans" by sending four of their top five players home rather than making them available for the nationally televised matchup. (The Spurs' reserves, for what it's worth, played very competitive basketball against the Heat's star-studded lineup before a final-minute 3-pointer by Ray Allen pushed the Heat ahead for good.)
Nobody wants more quarter-million-dollar fines for nonsensical nothingness, so it's a good thing that Anthony was just joshin', whether he plays or not. The Knicks would obviously vastly prefer he does, though; with revenge on their mind and the bad taste of a somewhat surprising and embarrassing four-point loss to the lowly Washington Wizards still in their mouths, New York would prefer to have Anthony's third-best-in-the-league 26.4 points per game available.
If he can't go, though, hopefully he'll be able to keep the mood light on the bench. Maybe he can tell us the one about Bynum playing Pop-a-Shot. That got some laughs here today.