Uncertainty Over Carmelo Anthony Upstages Knicks Victory

Phil Jackson, the Knicks’ president, walked out of a private entryway and to his seat a few minutes before tipoff at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. He had missed the team’s pregame introduction and did not hear the crowd greet Carmelo Anthony when Anthony took the floor as the final Knicks starter to be announced.

Instead, Jackson settled into his chair and prepared to watch another installment of a Knicks season in which there has been a lot more intrigue than good basketball.

All the main characters were in the arena. Jackson sitting alongside Clarence Gaines Jr., a Knicks vice president and longtime friend. General Manager Steve Mills, sitting a few rows away. Anthony on the court, and his high-powered agent, Leon Rose, in his own seat nearby.

That the Knicks went on to defeat the Charlotte Hornets, 110-107, in an entertaining game was almost an aside to the drama surrounding Anthony, their star player, and whether he is on the verge of being traded.

It was just the Knicks’ fifth victory in their past 19 games. Anthony scored 18 points but missed a lot of shots, although he did hit a jumper with 13 seconds left that sealed the win. Kristaps Porzingis scored 18 as well, while Courtney Lee had 16 points and helped lead a fourth-quarter comeback.

The victory also left the 21-27 Knicks two games behind the Chicago Bulls for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

All of that was welcome news for a Knicks team that often appears dysfunctional. But there was a negative development, too, with Derrick Rose leaving the game in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle. He did not return, although X-rays were negative.

Still, Rose’s injury fell within the framework of the normal ups and downs for a team — a good victory alongside a worrisome injury. It is the other story line — whether Anthony is staying or leaving — that may…