CLEVELAND — After he dressed following another disturbing loss, Carmelo Anthony was asked about his injured right thumb, the All-Star's newest ailment.
"It's messed up," he said.
So are the Knicks.
One night after finally getting its offense to flow as designed, New York made 23 turnovers and never mounted a serious comeback in the fourth quarter Wednesday night, falling 91-81 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Knicks' seventh loss in eight games.
Anderson Varejao had 16 rebounds, a powerful dunk down the stretch and outhustled Anthony and Amare Stoudemire to help the Cavs end a four-game losing streak.
Antawn Jamison added 15 points for the Cavs, who won their ninth straight at home over New York. The Knicks haven't won in Cleveland since 2006.
As the game was slipping away in the closing minutes, Anthony, blocked from a clear path to the basket by several Cavaliers, threw a pass to the wing for Stoudemire. But the ball went right through Stoudemire's legs and out of bounds, another costly error for the Knicks who may be the NBA's most disappointing team this season.
"We've got to find a way to score," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We're not scoring the basketball."
Stoudemire had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the sloppy Knicks, who had six turnovers and just 17 points in the fourth quarter. Anthony scored 15 points — 14 more than he had in a win Tuesday night over Charlotte — but he had another poor shooting night, going 5 of 14.
New York scored just 36 points in the second half and failed to get closer than six points in the fourth.
Anthony can't pinpoint the Knicks' problems.
"I can't really put my finger on it right now," he said. "I can't figure it out. Last night, guys got going early and tonight we were waiting for it to come to us rather than go get it. We just couldn't figure it out."
Anthony hurt his thumb against the Bobcats, another hindrance to go along with a sprained left wrist and sprained right ankle.
He didn't use his injuries as an excuse, but the damage is preventing Anthony to play his game.
"There's no frustration," he said. "I'm thinking about my body. There's a lot going through my mind right now and I'm trying to figure it out. I'll get it figured out. It's a tough situation right now due to the circumstances, but I'll get it figured out. I'll tell you that."
The Cavs led by five entering the fourth and stretched it when reserve Alonzo Gee made a steal and went in for a windmill dunk to put Cleveland ahead 75-66.
At that point, the Knicks seemed to pack it in.
They got within 81-73 on a drive by Anthony, but Tyson Chandler stopped New York's momentum when he picked up a technical foul for elbowing Varejao while going for a rebound.
"That shouldn't have been a technical," Chandler said. "He was running up my back every play. On the free throw, I'm trying to get him off so he doesn't get an offensive rebound. I get a technical. Hopefully, the league sees what really happens."
Daniel Gibson made both free throws following the technical to put Cleveland up 84-73 before Stoudemire scored on a baseline dunk. After Anthony missed again, Jamison fed a streaking Varejao for his dunk to make it 86-75 with 3:05 left.
"He's a stat-sheet stuffer," Cavs coach Byron Scott said about Varejao, who had eight offensive rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. "That's the one thing about Andy, he's going to do a little bit of everything."
Twice in the final minute, Gee got loose for breakaway dunks, leaving the Knicks to watch. He missed one, but Jamison was there to clean up for a layin. With the game out of reach in the final seconds, Anthony nonchalantly walked the ball up the floor as the Knicks accepted defeat.
It won't get easier as New York visits Miami on Friday night.
"I'm not worried playing against anybody," Chandler said. "We have enough talent on this team, but we have to figure out how to play with one another and what it's going to take to win games. We're inconsistent with everything we do. To be an elite team in this league, you have to be consistent every night and we lack that right now."
Cleveland's Omri Casspi scored 13, but did not return after having his chin split open and getting six stitches.Comment on this story
Anthony missed all seven of his field-goal attempts on Tuesday, failing to make a field goal for the first time since Nov. 28, 2005. He needed just 2:15 to get his first bucket, got fouled and completed a three-point play. His only point against Charlotte came on a technical foul in the third quarter.
But the Cavs never let Anthony get into the flow and Gee did a nice job defending him in the fourth, when New York's most lethal weapon went 1 of 3.
"Every time we play them they try to do a good job of getting the ball out of my hands and not let me do anything out there," Anthony said, "and tonight they did that. They kind of forced it out of my hands and made other guys try to win the game."
Notes: Knicks G Baron Davis has yet to play because of a herniated disk in his back and won't be back until the weekend — at the earliest. Davis was released in training camp by the Cavs, who were ready to turn their team over to rookie Kyrie Irving. "I wasn't surprised," Davis said. "They had an opportunity to move in a new direction with these young dudes and this young talent they have. I could tell the first day I was here that's what that was going to be the move." ... The Knicks picked up G Toney Douglas' fourth-year team option, keeping him under contract through 2012-13. Wednesday was the league's deadline for options and extensions. ... Cavs rookie F Tristan Thompson missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle.