Even with star Carmelo Anthony in the lineup, the New York Knicks likely would have a tough time beating the Oklahoma City Thunder. Without their leading scorer, that challenge becomes even greater.
A sprained ankle and sore wrist are expected to prevent Anthony from taking the court when the visiting Knicks try to snap the Thunder's five-game winning streak Saturday night.
Anthony is averaging 25.5 points for New York (6-5) and 30.0 on 50.0 percent shooting in his last 10 games against the Thunder franchise. However, he has yet to face Oklahoma City as a member of the Knicks.
He likely won't get the chance this weekend after he sprained his right ankle early in the third quarter of Thursday's 94-83 loss at Memphis. X-rays were negative, but Anthony also injured his wrist in the first quarter.
"I'm real sore," Anthony told the Knicks' official website. "Hopefully, I will be alright. I can wrap the wrist and play through that. A sore ankle is a little bit more to deal with.
"I've been getting beat up for nine years, so, I'm not worried about getting beat up. I'm going to get through it. I'm living. I'm walking. I'm smiling. I'm hurt, but I'll be alright."
Whether the Knicks will be alright without their star remains to be seen. New York has lost seven of nine to the Thunder, dropping all three games in Oklahoma City.
Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire is looking for a better performance after he scored a season-low six points at Memphis, converting 1 of 7 shots while saddled with foul trouble. He's averaged 26.0 points and 11.4 rebounds in his last five games versus Oklahoma City.
Anthony and Bill Walker each had a team-high 14 points Thursday as New York shot 37.3 percent and committed 18 turnovers to see its four-game winning streak come to an end.
"It was definitely one of those nights where we couldn't get into a rhythm," center Tyson Chandler said, "but we have to do a better job of our starts and the way we come out."
The Knicks obviously would like to get off to a good start against the Western Conference-leading Thunder (10-2), who have held opponents to an average of 93.0 points during their five-game run.
Kevin Durant had 29 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, and Russell Westbrook added 22 points with seven assists as Oklahoma City won 95-85 at New Orleans on Wednesday to sweep a stretch of five games in six days.
"It feels good to get five wins, man," said Durant, who has recorded three straight double-doubles. "We've got to look forward to keep pushing, keep building on it and hopefully do a good job next game. It's very encouraging that we can get through something like this."
Durant - averaging 30.5 points in his last four games versus New York - had 30 and 12 rebounds in a 101-98 home victory over the Knicks on Jan. 22, hitting the winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Westbrook, who has totaled 52 points over the last two games, had 28 in that contest. He's averaged 23.3 points while going 49 of 98 from the field in six games against the Knicks.