The New York Knicks hope to have Amare Stoudemire back before the end of the season after a second doctor said he won't need surgery on the bulging disk in his back.
The Knicks said Wednesday they expect Stoudemire to miss about two to four weeks while getting treatment. They had previously said he was out indefinitely after an MRI revealed the injury on Monday.
Point guard Jeremy Lin also will miss their game against Orlando on Wednesday because of a sore left knee, but Carmelo Anthony said he will play despite a strained right groin.
Anthony was hurt during the Knicks' 89-80 victory over Milwaukee on Monday, but returned to the game and finished with 28 points. The Knicks were listing him as questionable, but Anthony said: "I'll be out there tonight."
"I had a groin injury before, this is nowhere near the first time, where I had to sit out six, seven games," he said, referring to an injury on Feb. 6. "I'm able to run around out there, I'm able to move, I'm able to cut and do a lot more stuff. So I'll be out there, so that's the most important thing."
Stoudemire is returning from Miami, where he was given a second opinion on the injury. Both doctors agreed on non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation, which will include an epidural for pain relief.
That could allow Stoudemire to return before the regular season ends April 26.
"That's always good news," Anthony said. "I just want him to be healthy, that's the most important thing for him. For us, we just want him to be healthy."
The Knicks hold a two-game lead over Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and are only three games back of first-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division. But they would seem to have little hope of playoff success without Stoudemire, who injured his back in Game 2 against Boston last year and the Knicks went down quickly in four games while he played in pain.
The injury kept Stoudemire off the court for much of the offseason and he struggled the first half of this season while playing above his normal weight after adding muscle in hopes of avoiding further injury. He had been close to his usual form lately, averaging 19.3 points in his last four games, leading the Knicks in scoring in all four.
JR Smith also missed the morning shootaround because of an illness. The Knicks are listing him as probable.