Carmelo Anthony was on a record-setting pace at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. His New York Knicks were killing it, and then he went down with a left ankle injury after going up for a dunk.
The injury doesn't appear to be too serious, but even if it is, Anthony's absence right now won't affect the team's long-term goals of winning an NBA championship. As New York Times reporter Nate Taylor said late last night, Anthony won't lose any sleep over this malady.
GM Glen Grunwald said he doesn't think Carmelo Anthony's left ankle injury is serious.— Nate Taylor (@ByNateTaylor) December 14, 2012
The Knickerbockers are just too hot for words right now, with or without their superstar forward.
Anthony was having a stellar game at the time of the injury. He had 30 points in just 23 minutes, and he was having his way with Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and anyone else his former head coach Mike D'Antoni tried to throw his way.
But it's the rest of the Knicks who are picking up the slack, and they did so against the Lakers—in a way that suggests that the wins over the Miami Heat and a few of the league's other premier teams are no fluke. The Knicks are for real.
Look at what Raymond Felton is doing right now. He had a bit of a clunker shooting-wise against the Lakers, but the man who was written off in Portland has had a resurgence as the starting point guard in New York. He put up 19 points and eight assists last night, well within reach for a season average at this pace.
And then there's the ex-Dallas Mavericks players, Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, who are both making Mark Cuban wish he would have ponied up the money for his starting center two summers ago.
Even on the bench the Knicks appear loaded. J.R. Smith and Steve Novak are two guys that can light it up from outside, with the former being a staple in the team's closing lineup. Also, don't forget about Rasheed Wallace—the old man can still shoot and play defense.
Looking ahead to the All-Star break and the second half of the season, the Knicks seem destined for a clash with the East's elite. Teams will start to figure out how to defend the three-point shot more effectively, but by that time, Amar'e Stoudemire will be back in the lineup for the Knicks.
Scary thought, huh?
So don't fret, Knicks fans. Anthony is the best player on the planet right now (sorry, LeBron). But even if he's out for an extended period of time, the Knicks can hold down the fort.
It's what good teams do.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.