MIAMI (AP) — Carmelo Anthony took some easy shots about 12 feet from the basket Saturday afternoon, swishing just about every attempt.
All were left-handed — a clear sign that the New York Knicks’ newly acquired star was having plenty of distress in his right elbow again.
Regardless, Anthony said he would “without a doubt” be in the lineup Sunday night when the Knicks visit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in a game that has all the makings of being far from another ordinary part of the NBA’s marathon regular season.
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said Anthony told him the elbow pain, which flared up in New York’s loss at Cleveland on Friday night, stemmed from a lingering bursa sac problem. Anthony went through New York’s practice in Miami, which started about 13 hours after the loss to the Cavaliers.
“He should be fine,” D’Antoni said. “He didn’t take a whole lot of shots, let’s put it that way, but he ran through everything. Most of the things we did was try to get our defense on the same page.”
Anthony had his right elbow in a protective sleeve, like the one he’s been wearing on his left arm. He said he doesn’t plan on being 100 percent for a couple of weeks, but noted that since the Knicks have 26 games remaining before the postseason, there’s little time for him to wait around.
They need to start clicking as soon as possible, he said — and finding a way to handle the likes of Wade and James in Miami would be a good start.
“For us, it should be a statement game to come out here and want to beat this team … just make a statement right now going down the stretch,” Anthony said. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to be an exciting game.”
Knicks-Heat games always seem that way.
It was a major rivalry a decade or so ago, after Miami played New York four straight times in the playoffs from 1997 to 2000. Each of those series went to a deciding game, and the Knicks won three of them — all on the Heat home floor.
Sunday night may easily rekindle some of that Heat-Knicks bad blood.
“We know the Heat-Knicks rivalry goes way beyond our years,” James said. “It basically started with the departure of the man upstairs, coming down here and leaving New York.”
The man upstairs, as James put it, is Heat president Pat Riley — who left the Knicks for Miami a decade-and-a-half ago and instantly became someone New York loved to hate.
He’ll be low profile on Sunday, but the atmosphere should still be electric.
“It’s going to be great. It’s going to be great,” Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire said. “There’s a lot of New Yorkers here in Miami, proud of the Knicks. It’s going to be fun to play.”
New Yorkers, transplants in South Florida or otherwise, always show up for games at Miami. Tickets for Sunday were going for as much as $2,500 in the lower levels on the online fan-to-fan marketplace StubHub.com, and that doesn’t even include the $9,000 asking price for some courtside spots.
“Since I’ve been here, the New York Knicks have always gotten cheers in the Miami Heat arena,” Wade said. “I’m sure both sides will get some cheers. Everybody will be coming out to see the game.”
The Knicks practiced for nearly two hours on Saturday, which constitutes a long workout by NBA standards this late in the season, especially the night after a road game followed by another couple hours of travel.
Trading for Anthony and Chauncey Billups created a significant challenge for the Knicks. They got much better, but the process of becoming a cohesive unit in time for the playoffs needs to be fast-tracked.
“This is not going to happen in the next week or the next two weeks,” Anthony said. “Let’s just face it. That’s reality. It took everybody who made moves like this a period of time to come together and get right on the same page.
“We know that, but still, we can’t just say, ‘That’s going to happen.’ We’ve got to go for it right now.”