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.
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'
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
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
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
"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."