- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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If not, Anthony said he's prepared to "do it all" for his undermanned team -- again.
"Without those two guys, I think me, personally, I have to step up and do it all to try to win," Anthony said after Thursday's practice. "But at the same time we got guys who will have to step up on the team, because like I said before there's no way I can do it by myself."
With Billups out due to a left knee injury and Stoudemire sidelined with a pulled back muscle, Anthony single-handedly kept the Knicks in contention in their Game 2 loss in Boston. He tied a career playoff high with 42 points, set a career-high with 17 rebounds and handed out six assists in the Knicks' 96-93 defeat.
The Knicks trail the best-of-seven series 2-0, with the team set to play host Friday night to its first playoff game since 2004.
Billups sat out of Thursday's practice to get treatment on his strained left knee, while Stoudemire stayed home due to a pulled muscle in his back. Coach Mike D'Antoni said he is optimistic Stoudemire will be available Friday but didn't seem all that convinced Billups would play.
If two of the Big Apple's Big Three are sidelined, Anthony said he is confident in the rest of the Knicks' ability to contribute on Friday night.
"I think other guys on the team, they [were] in that game, they understood that was a lot for any one person to take on," Anthony said. "But they [were] right there with me, my teammates [were] right there with me. They fought with me, battled with me."
Days after his Feb. 22 arrival in New York, Anthony said he'd hoped he wouldn't have to carry the load offensively on a nightly basis, as he did in Denver.
Still, Anthony said Thursday, "Sometimes it just comes natural. Sometimes, like the other day, it was one of those moments where I had to do it. It took for me to probably do a little bit more for us to be in that game ... knowing that Amare was out and Chauncey was out. We came together as a group. For the most part I think we played great in both games and I think we want to keep that momentum going."
Anthony shook off criticism of his decision to pass to Jared Jeffries instead of shooting with the Knicks down by one and four seconds remaining in Game 2. He pointed out, jokingly, that he also took heat for shooting a long three-pointer with the Knicks down two and four seconds to play in Game 1.
"I didn't take the shot, you guys criticized me for that. I took the shot, the other day you criticized me for that," Anthony said with a laugh. "But it's all good to me, man. If I'm in that same situation I would definitely pass it to Jared again."
Only 14 teams in NBA history have rebounded from 0-2 deficits. No team has come back from a 3-0 hole.
Which is why Anthony said Game 3 is "a must-win for us. This is the hardest game by far that we've played."
Anthony hoped to visit Stoudemire at his Manhattan apartment on Wednesday to see how his back was holding up. He's hoping for the best with both Stoudemire and Billups. But if both stars are forced to sit, Anthony knows what to expect Friday night.
"For the guys that [are] playing, we're just going to have to keep that same effort, keep it going," he said. "Play the same way we've played, correct some things and go from there."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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