Anthony likely to rest ankle vs. Grizzlies

Updated: January 20, 2005, 10:28 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- The swelling in his sprained right ankle nearly gone, Carmelo Anthony feels ready to play against Memphis on Friday night. That doesn't mean he will.

Carmelo Anthony
Small Forward
Denver Nuggets
32 20.5 5.8 3.2 .389 .778

The way things have gone for Anthony and the Denver Nuggets this season, he might be better suited to wait a few days before coming back.

"As bad as I want to play, I don't want to play because if I go out there and make any moves, anything can happen," Anthony said Thursday. "It's like I'm snakebitten."

He's not the only one.

One of the preseason favorites in the Western Conference, Denver's lackluster performance cost coach Jeff Bzdelik his job last month, and the team has only been marginally better under interim coach Michael Cooper. Denver was 10th in the West at 16-22 as of Thursday.

There's been plenty of breakdowns at both ends of the floor, though injuries have certainly played a big role in the Nuggets' struggles.

It started in the season opener, when guard Voshon Lenard -- the team's only legitimate outside shooting threat -- was lost for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon. Denver also started the season without Brazilian power forward Nene and since then players have seemingly tag-teamed each other on the way back to the bench -- one comes back, another goes down.

The Nuggets have lost 133 games to injuries. Point guard Andre Miller is the only starter who hasn't missed at least two games.

"It would be nice to have everybody healthy, but we've just got to work with the guys here," Cooper said. "We've got some pretty good guys on the team here and are working hard and playing pretty big minutes."

Other than Lenard, who is ahead of schedule in his rehab and has an outside chance of returning this season, Anthony has gotten the worst of the injury bug. He missed one game in November after spraining his right ankle, then six more last month after spraining his left.

Anthony did it to the right side this time, stepping on the foot of Seattle's Nick Collison on Tuesday.

It's a situation that has Anthony looking over his shoulder and down at his feet.

"It's always going to be on your mind," he said. "You think you can do something, and once you start doing good and feeling comfortable, an injury happens."

Denver might actually play well if Anthony doesn't play against the Grizzlies. In a season filled with letdowns, the Nuggets have found ways to get up in adverse situations.

Denver played its best all-around game under Cooper two weeks ago against the Lakers, running away with a 12-point victory after needing 10 hours to get home from Sacramento the night before.

The Nuggets did one better in Seattle on Tuesday, beating one of the league's best teams in overtime despite starting without Nene (suspension) and Kenyon Martin, and losing Anthony in the fourth quarter.

"It seems like when our backs are against the wall we complete games better," Cooper said. "The key is we got a good win last game and we've got to build on that."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press