Knicks welcome Heat to MSG

(SportsNetwork.com) - It doesn't appear New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony will shake off a balky back in time to face the Miami Heat Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Anthony has missed the last two games with a back injury suffered in a loss at Houston on Nov. 24, but said his back is getting better. He is listed as questionable and leads the Knicks with 23.2 points per game. Anthony netted 14 points against the Rockets and had scored 20 or more in his previous eight games.

"It was kind of like a whiplash," Anthony told the New York Post Friday. "A quick turn and my back just spasmed. Nothing related to my knee or other part of my body.

"Maybe 80 percent of it is gone. It's still in one area, trying to get it out of that one area. There's still part of it right there that's just not trying to go away."

The Knicks have dropped three in a row and five of six games, and lost all three games on a recent road trip. It will play three in a row at MSG and suffered a 105-78 setback in Oklahoma City on Friday, as Thunder star Russell Westbrook returned from an injured hand to score 32 points.

Amare Stoudemire had 20 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ended with 11 for the Knicks, who shot only 38.7 percent and missed 17-of-19 attempts from 3-point range to fall to 4-13 on the season. New York trailed 30-13 after the first quarter and played from behind the rest of the way.

"I thought the energy was low to begin with," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. "A long week on the road, it seemed like we were a little flat."

J.R. Smith, starting in place of Anthony, mustered just two points while going 1-of-9 from the floor.

New York will also welcome Brooklyn and Cleveland to MSG, where it is 3-5 this season.

The well-rested Heat had won two in a row and three of four games until they dropped a 114-97 decision to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry had 40 points and made 12-of-19 shots, including eight of his 11 3-point attempts.

Golden State closed the game on a 19-2 run after a 95-95 tie and held the Heat to 11 points in the fourth quarter (23-11).

"They played their best basketball in the fourth quarter, we got caught in some possessions. Their defense stepped up," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Chris Bosh scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds to pace Miami, while Luol Deng and Mario Chalmers netted 16 and 14 points, respectively. The Heat shot 38.8 percent and played without star guard Dwyane Wade (hamstring) for a seventh straight game. Wade is out indefinitely and averaging 19.8 ppg.

The Heat will play seven of the next eight games on the road and are 4-2 outside of South Beach this season. Chalmers is listed as probable for Sunday's game in New York with an illness.

Miami is 5-1 this season when scoring 100 or more points and 7-0 when leading after three quarters. It will try to improve that mark against the Knicks, who lost three of four meetings with the Heat last season.

New York has lost three in a row and 14 of the last 20 games against the Heat.

These two Eastern Conference foes have split the last 14 contests at MSG.