MIAMI – Carmelo Anthony is hurting. Dwyane Wade no longer is.
Anthony sat out the New York Knicks’ game at Miami on Friday night, a contest where Wade made his return to the starting lineup after a six-game absence to recover from a sprained right ankle.
Anthony is dealing with an array of thumb, wrist and ankle problems.
“I’ve just got to be smart,” Anthony said Friday morning.
“I think I was trying to be a superhero and trying to prove to my teammates that I can play hurt, trying to hide it. But at the end of the day me doing that, it wasn’t really doing nothing but hurting the team. … Me being limited out there on the court, it wasn’t doing anything for me, for my psyche, for my body. It was just making it worse.”
In other words, perhaps Anthony is taking his cue from how Wade dealt with his most recent injury.
Wade was injured in Denver two weeks ago and was listed day to day throughout his absence. He returned to on-court conditioning several days ago, went through a hard pregame workout in Detroit on Wednesday night, then did more work in Miami on Thursday and participated in the team’s shootaround practice Friday morning.
“He’s healthy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade. “He’s ready to go. … We were very, very patient with this.”
The Heat are 8-1 without Wade this season. After seeing Wade work Friday morning, Heat teammate LeBron James seemed impressed.
“He looks good,” James said. “He looks like he’s about ready to play.”
Anthony hasn’t looked his best for a while.
He had a career-low one point in New York’s win at Charlotte on Tuesday, and in New York’s six games from Jan. 16 through Wednesday the perennial all-star is shooting just under 32 per cent from the floor, along with a dismal 5-for-28 from three-point range.
Anthony missed New York’s game on Jan. 14 against Oklahoma City because of a sprained right ankle and sprained left wrist, and neither problem has gotten much — if any — better since.
“He can’t make a shot and he’s playing through a lot of pain and it’s not going away and it just kept getting worse,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’ve got to have him 100 per cent or we don’t have a chance. If not, it’s crazy to keep going.”
Anthony said he and the team made the decision after a series of conversations following a loss at Cleveland on Wednesday and during New York’s off day on Thursday.
D’Antoni said Anthony underwent therapy Friday morning, adding that he wouldn’t expect to see him back on the floor before the Knicks’ home game against Detroit on Tuesday.
“He’s just struggling through some ankle and wrist and hand injuries and he just can’t perform the way he needs to or the way he wants to,” D’Antoni said. “We decided, the medical staff thought it would be best to take the weekend off. Maybe Tuesday.”
The Knicks are still missing point guard Baron Davis, who has not played this season because of a herniated disc in his back. Davis was on the floor with the Knicks for their shootaround practice Friday morning, but D’Antoni said the team is “going to wait until he can be NBA ready and he’s not quite there yet.”
Even with his struggles, Anthony entered Friday fifth in the NBA in scoring at 23.6 points per game. His 39-per cent success rate from the field so far would be the lowest of his career, and the Knicks have opened the season with 11 losses in the first 18 games.
Playing through one injury is something Anthony has done countless times. Playing through several injuries now simply took a toll, he said.
“It’s a combination, the ankle, the wrist, the thumb,” Anthony said. “It’s just messing up me mentally, not being able to go out there and do what I can do, be there for my teammates, perform out there at the highest level. That was kind of bothering me a little bit.”
If Anthony and Wade played, it would have been a matchup where four of the top five draft picks from 2003 — James, Anthony, Chris Bosh and Wade — all would have been on the court together.
“It’s still the Knicks and the Heat,” Bosh said. “It’s still a big game.”