The New York Knicks may be without Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday night. If their reserves can repeat their latest performance and Amare Stoudemire can continue his efficient scoring, it may not matter against the hapless Detroit Pistons.
New York will be going for its second straight season sweep of Detroit - having taken the first three meetings by an average of 16.7 points - and its 11th win in 12 matchups overall.
Anthony is listed as questionable after exiting in the second quarter of a 102-97 victory over the Cavaliers on Monday with a right knee injury. The forward said it had been bothering him for several weeks, and he appeared to aggravate it when he twisted the knee and dropped to the floor.
The NBA's second-leading scorer at 28.2 points per game, Anthony said he underwent an MRI a "couple days" earlier, though the results were negative.
"It's just sore, not pain, sore and stiffness," said Anthony, who's averaged 51.9 percent shooting against the Pistons this season. "It's been going on for a while now."
New York (36-21) is 3-4 without Anthony in 2012-13, and appeared headed for another loss against Cleveland as it faced a 22-point deficit. However, the Knicks' bench - one of the best in the league with 39.8 points per game - outscored the starters 70-32 en route to the victory.
Stoudemire led the way with a season high-tying 22 points after he was benched for the final eight minutes of a 99-93 loss to Miami on Sunday. Coach Mike Woodson said before Monday's game that he needed to get more minutes for Stoudemire, who has been capped at 30.0 per game because of offseason knee surgery but is averaging 23.1.
It's easy to see why Woodson wants to see more of Stoudemire with the forward making 74.5 percent from the field in his last six.
"I've been a competitor my whole career," said Stoudemire, who played a season-high 32 minutes against the Cavaliers. "I've had a lot of success in this league so far. I know how the game is played. Whenever my number's called I'll be ready and tonight I was ready."
The Pistons (23-39) have dropped five of six and have little chance of making the playoffs. That leaves coach Lawrence Frank with the task of keeping his young squad focused for the final 20 games.
"We have to really, really be committed because it only gets harder," Frank told the Pistons' official website after a 114-75 loss at San Antonio on Sunday. "Not our motivation, but the other teams we're playing are vying for things. They ain't messing around and we have to come with that same mentality. If we ever want to be a playoff team, you can't wait to adopt that mentality."
Detroit's defense continues to be weakened by the absence of rookie big man Andre Drummond, who has missed 12 consecutive games with a fractured tailbone. The Pistons are allowing 102.5 points per contest in that span after giving up 96.7 before Drummond's injury.
While the Knicks may be without Anthony, center Marcus Camby played Monday for the first time since Jan. 10 after recovering from plantar fasciitis. He was limited to seven minutes.