NEW YORK (AP) — Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points after deciding to play in what could be his final game with the Knicks, and New York beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-113 on Wednesday night.
Anthony had missed the previous two games with a sore left knee and wasn’t expected to play Wednesday, but told Jeff Hornacek he wanted to go. He played 23 minutes, sitting out the final quarter while a couple of “We want Melo! We want Melo!” chants broke out.
The Knicks finished 31-51 in another dysfunctional and disappointing season that started with promise, but became a sideshow after a disconnect between team president Phil Jackson and Anthony led to trade rumors that engulfed the team.
Jackson will have to decide this summer if he wants to try again to find a trade, and if so whether Anthony would accept it.
The All-Star has a no-trade clause and has said he wants to stay in New York, but he may be open to a change of scenery after a fourth straight season out of the playoffs.
Justin Anderson scored 26 points for the 76ers, who finished 28-54 after reaching the end of the season without anyone from their young core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric.
Anthony got a nice ovation when he was announced during starting lineups, though nothing like the thunderous applause he arrived here in February 2011 or his first couple of seasons, when the Knicks were a playoff team.
He probably never imagined how it would turn out, with no playoff appearances since 2013 after making it every year of his career before then.
Those struggles might make the 32-year-old Anthony open to a trade, though it still won’t be easy for Jackson to find a deal given Anthony’s age and contract, which still has two years remaining.
76ers: Rookie of the Year candidate Saric sat out with left heel soreness. The team said it was precautionary after Saric had been on a minutes restriction lately because of the injury. … Guard Gerald Henderson was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for throwing an elbow to the head of Paul George with 2:59 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Sixers’ loss to Indiana on Monday. Henderson was given a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected.
Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis sat out again because of a sore lower back. … Justin Holiday led New York with 20 points.
Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the draft who missed the season with a broken right foot, visited New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery on Tuesday and had a CT scan and X-ray. He met with Dr. Martin O’Malley, who after the favorable results of the scans cleared Simmons to increase his on-court activity with a goal of gradually progressing to 5-on-5 work.
The office of Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis released a statement Wednesday about a letter President Donald Trump sent reaffirming that the countries would remain allies. “And may I say, as a fan of the New York Knicks, that I greatly appreciate the contributions of Latvian star Kristaps Porzingis,” Trump wrote. Porzingis said he heard about the remarks from Latvian friends but had no comment.
The Knicks said Joakim Noah, currently sitting out a 20-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy, has a right rotator cuff injury and team doctors have recommended surgery.
No decisions have been made or timelines for his return determined — though Hornacek said he heard it would be a five-month recovery if Noah had the surgery.
He had surgery after dislocating his left shoulder last season, limiting him to 29 games in his final season in Chicago before signing a four-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks.
The 76ers said Robert Covington would have surgery in the coming days to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.