Carmelo Anthony scores 30 points but falls to his former team in Denver.
DENVER — Phil Jackson showed up in the Mile High City and witnessed the Knicks get smoked in thin air.
It was the team president’s first game of the season outside of New York, and Jackson sat midcourt as the Knicks were pummeled Tuesday by the Nuggets in high altitude, 110-94, while allowing a mind-boggling 62 points in the paint.
Jackson declined to speak with the media through a spokesman, but, according to coach Kurt Rambis, he plans to stick with the club through its longest road trip of the season – one that extends until March 19 and makes a long stop in L.A.
Rambis said the trip was Jackson’s idea, but it couldn’t inspire a Knicks team that trailed all but 25 seconds of its latest flop.
The night started ominously for the Knicks as backup swingman Lance Thomas hurt his knee during warmups and required assistance to walk off the court.
It was the dreaded non-contact injury for Thomas, a free-agent this summer, who planted his foot while preparing to take a shot and came up limping. The Knicks then ruled out Thomas for the game with a sore left knee, and an MRI revealed no structural damage.
Phil Jackson makes the rare road trip with the Knicks but it fails to inspire the team.
His absence coincided with the return of Kristaps Porzingis, who missed the previous game because of a lower leg bruise. But Porzingis struggled again with just six points in 20 minutes — indicating that the Latvian still is struggling to clear his rookie wall.
The altitude may have also been a factor as Porzingis had no pop to his game, getting outplayed by Denver’s tall young European, Nikola Jokic.
The fact that the Knicks (26-39) looked lethargic and exhausted in the first game of a six-game road trip is not a good sign.
They fell to 3-8 since Rambis took over, and are winless in Denver since 2006.
“Part of it is (Porzingis) being young. He hasn’t really developed his NBA stamina yet,” Rambis said. “That doesn’t happen till several years in the league, where somebody can really sustain playing the number of games you play in the NBA and deal with the situations – the travel, the altitude, the back-to-backs and whatever. He’s not quite there yet but he will be.”
Kristaps Porzingis struggles again on both ends of the court.
So once again, it was on Carmelo Anthony. And once again, his 30 points in 38 minutes weren’t enough.
In a city consumed with Peyton Manning’s retirement and everything Broncos-related, his return to where his pro career began registered zero buzz.
There was no mention of the former Nuggets franchise star in the local paper, no reporters from Denver attending New York’s practice just a day before the game.
Once a hero and a villain at the Pepsi Center – where he will eventually have his number retired — Anthony was hoping time healed the wounds and the crowd wouldn’t boo like his previous two appearances.
The jeers were certainly less noticeable, but that’s because the arena was two-thirds empty.
“I hope they’re not hurt. I think over time we as people tend to forget and forgive and try to understand from both sides. From my side and the organization’s side,” Anthony said.
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