INDIANAPOLIS -- Carmelo Anthony had an excuse for not being at the New York Knicks' shootaround Thursday morning. His coach told him to stay at the hotel and take it easy.
The Knicks star forward will get even more rest Thursday night, thanks to the NBA.
Less than 24 hours after Anthony was given a one-game suspension for Monday's confrontation with Kevin Garnett, the Knicks were preparing to face Indiana without their leading scorer. Amare Stoudemire is expected to play only about 20 minutes as he continues to work his way back from knee surgery.
No, this is not how New York wanted to go into a nationally-televised game against the Central Division leaders. But Anthony's suspension left them no choice.
"I'm sure he's disappointed, but again it happened and we can't go back," Woodson told reporters. "He's got to live with it, and he'll rebound from it. Carmelo is a true pro and he'll deal with it."
Anthony contended he went toward the Celtics' locker room after losing to Boston and later waited for Garnett outside Boston's team bus because he wanted to discuss Garnett's choice of words during a fourth-quarter altercation. Anthony had said he didn't believe he would be suspended because he said he was just looking to talk to Garnett.
NBA executive vice-president of operations Stu Jackson ruled otherwise.
Woodson learned of the decision Wednesday night, after the team arrived in Indy to face one of the league's hottest teams. Indiana is 11-3 in its last 14 games and beat defending champion Miami 77-67 on Tuesday.
"We've got to move on and live for the next day," Woodson said. "There's not a whole lot we can do as an organization."
The options are complicated by Stoudemire's situation.
After playing a season-high 28 minutes in Monday's loss to Boston, Stoudemire reportedly experienced soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee. Woodson acknowledged Thursday that he would closely monitor Stoudemire's minutes against the Pacers -- even though Stoudemire seemed undeterred by that notion. He's expected to play about 20 minutes.
"I think it was more having three games in four nights. I just don't want to overdo anything," Stoudemire said. "We'll see how it is tonight. Carmelo's out, so I might get more minutes."
The Pacers expect to see the Knicks make some adjustments. For instance, swingman Paul George said he believes New York will go to guys like J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd more often and will take more than 3-point shots than usual.
But even without Anthony, the Pacers believe this game will be every bit as tough as they thought it would with Anthony.
"They're different but every bit as lethal," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "They being first in the East is as much about Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd and the experience they have as it is about Carmelo Anthony."