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Knicks' expect 'Melo to return Wednesday

GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) - Carmelo Anthony expects to return to the New York Knicks' lineup Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic.

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Anthony has missed three straight and six of the last eight games because of problems with his right knee. He had fluid drained from the back of the knee after struggling through the two games he played during that stretch, and said after the Knicks' morning shootaround he feels much better.

``I know how important this stretch run is for us, for me, for our whole organization,'' Anthony said. ``I went out there and tried to play hurt, banged up, it didn't work. I was only hurting my teammates by going out there and trying to play, so I'm not rushing back. But tonight I feel good, I felt good the last couple of days, so I'm going to see what happens.''

Anthony said he first felt pain in the fourth quarter of a March 3 loss to Miami, then said something didn't feel right when he woke up the next morning for a game in Cleveland. He fell to the court without contact while trying to catch a pass in the first half of that game and sat out the next three with what was called a stiff and sore knee.

He came back for the opener of the Knicks' trip at Golden State on March 11 and was dismal in his return to Denver two nights later. He left early in the second half and returned to New York the next day to have the procedure.

The Knicks' frontcourt has been decimated by injuries, with All-Star center Tyson Chandler expected to miss a week with a bulging disk. He joins reserves Amare Stoudemire, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas, who all will be sidelined for weeks.

Coach Mike Woodson said he expects Anthony to join Kenyon Martin, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni in the starting lineup Wednesday. The Knicks' Atlantic Division lead is down to just one game over Brooklyn after they went 1-4 on the trip.

``We've got to get healthy. The guys that need to get healthy, need to get healthy, take their time and the guys that's playing just need to step up,'' Anthony said. ``That's all I've got to say about that.''

AP NEWS
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