The highly anticipated matchup between the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, and his runner-up, is suddenly in doubt.
Anthony missed Monday’s 76-67 home win over New Orleans with a sprained right ankle, an injury he suffered in the third quarter of an 82-76 victory at Houston on Saturday.
After practice Wednesday, Anthony said his status will be a game-time decision, and the prospect of playing against James wouldn’t influence it.
“If I can’t play, I can’t play,” Anthony said. “I’m not going to go out there and try to force it and hurt myself real bad.”
Anthony led all rookies in scoring with 21 points per game last season, but finished second behind James, who averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 rebounds, joining Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as just the third player in NBA history to average at least 20, 5 and 5.
James and Anthony, both of whom played for the Olympic team this summer in Athens, are again leading their respective teams this season.
Anthony has won each of the previous three head-to-head matchups with James dating to their high school days. The Nuggets beat the Cavaliers twice last season,, with Anthony averaging 20 points per game to James’ 13.
“It’s going to be fun, competing against one of my good friends, as always,” James said.
The Nuggets, who have won six of seven, are trying to treat Thursday’s game as an ordinary one.
“This is the Denver Nuggets against the Cleveland Cavs,” Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said.
Against the Hornets on Monday, Earl Boykins scored a team-high 22 points for Denver, which has held each of its last six opponents below 90 points. The 67 points scored by the Hornets were the fewest allowed by the Nuggets in franchise history.
“Our defense is coming around and it’s saving us, because offensively, we’re not getting much,” said Bzdelik, whose team had given up at least 100 points in six straight games before its current run.
Cleveland, wrapping up a three-game road trip, fell to 0-2 on the swing with a 120-101 loss at Phoenix on Wednesday.
The Cavs have lost their last four visits to Denver.
The Nuggets are 4-0 against teams from the East this season. (knee).