By Abby Sims
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Knicks forward Kenyon Martin suffered a left ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s Atlantic Division-clinching win over the Washington Wizards and will miss tomorrow’s contest against the Bulls.

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Though bolstered by the hope that he will likely miss little time, it is an injury that further depletes the overachieving band of wounded Knicks who uncharacteristically and improbably are riding a 13-game winning streak.

Martin started yesterday’s game in place of the injured Tyson Chandler, whose neck soreness due to a bulging cervical disc seems only to keep him out intermittently, or in for limited minutes when he does participate. The same held true for Martin, whose minutes had been monitored to avoid (overly) exacerbating his already sore left knee.

These guys are playing in spite of some level of discomfort (read: pain) and in all likelihood, suboptimal function. The sum of the injured parts is evidently greater than the whole.

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Playing with an ankle sprain certainly limits balance as well as mobility: speed, ability to quickly change direction and to jump. Landings can be especially precarious and unstable. Swelling can inhibit strength and even with taping, a ligament injury, even a mild one with little tearing, can present with significant impairment for an athlete. Though it isn’t likely that Martin came down awkwardly on his left foot because of his left knee condition, if he comes back too quickly (and he is likely to), the left ankle issue could lead to further issues with the left knee. Altering mechanics to favor one injured area leads to obvious and undue stresses to other areas.

The Knicks are already pushing the boundaries of success without the contributions of Amar’e Stoudemire (following right knee debridement), Marcus Camby (left plantar fasciitis), Rasheed Wallace (following surgery for a fractured left fifth metatarsal), and Kurt Thomas (stress reaction in his right foot). Carmelo Anthony tied Bernard King’s team record for most consecutive 35-point games (at five), accomplishing the feat Tuesday after missing time just weeks ago both prior to and following having his right knee drained on March 14.

After all the criticism, perhaps Melo is a man on a mission, attempting to almost single-handedly carry this club to the division title, home court advantage and, unimaginable only four weeks ago, deep into the playoffs.

Knicks fans and players are focusing on the short-term. The outcomes of injuries and the tolls they will take on these aging stars appears pushed to a dormant level of consciousness.

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Will the Knicks keep rolling despite yet another injury? Be heard in the comments…