Knicks face Bulls without services of All-Star Anthony

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Knicks face Bulls without services of All-Star Anthony

It isnt a long-term injury on the level of the Bulls Derrick Rose or even Knicks teammates Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, a Chicago-area native, but New Yorks Carmelo Anthony missed his second consecutive game Saturday night with a middle-finger injury.

The superstar scorer and early-season MVP candidate was also sidelined for the Knicks blowout road win over defending-champion Miami after suffering a cut to the finger while diving into the crowd for a loose ball and while he had a day off in Chicago before facing the Bulls, after warming up prior to Saturdays contest, Anthony determined hed sit out another game to get healthy, perhaps in time for his first matchup in Denver against the Nuggets, his former team, Sunday.

Right now its just the comfort level of being able to just go out there and dribble, just getting through the first time you get hit, the first time I get a hard pass, just getting past that, Anthony said before the game. You just get caught up in the moment. When the momentum is going, youre not really thinking about your hand. I went out there and tried it, and knowing I still would force myself to go through it, youve got to be smart. Weve played 20 games at this point in the season and I didnt want to have another setback.

I think it was just me being able to catch passes, especially from Raymond. He fires them, so Ive got to get myself mentally prepared for that. But thats the only thing, being able to control the ball, catch the ball. Today, I worked out. It felt pretty good. Im pretty sure a couple more hours wont do anything but help it, continued the All-Star, who noted the advice given to him by teammate Tyson Chandler, a former Bull. Chandler told me not to, him and Jason Kidd. They pulled me up, told me that was the best thing for me to do. But they know how bad I want to play. I actually came early on the bus. Jason Kidd told me hes never seen me on the first bus. I was bored. But for me, to say to myself that Im going to sit out that Miami game and then tonights game, I really trust my teammates and feel as though they can take care of business.

Even with Anthony missing Thursdays prime-time showdown against the Heat and last seasons starters Stoudemire and Shumpert, an explosive second-year guard from suburban Oak Park, Ill.ironically, former Bulls Ronnie Brewer and Kurt Thomas are their temporary replacementsthe Knicks are currently atop the Eastern Conference, propelled by a combination of potent three-point shooting and a much-improved defense.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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