Dec 18, 8:32 PM EST

Carmelo Anthony sits out Knicks' game against Bulls because of sore left knee

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CHICAGO (AP) -- New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony sat out Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls because of a sore left knee.

Anthony is averaging 23.4 points in 24 games but has been battling the knee problem all season, leading to talk he might be shut down to let it heal.

Knicks coach Derek Fisher said that will be up to Anthony.

"Ultimately that has to be the player's decision, in terms of what he feels like is best for him and his career. Also, what's best for the team," Fisher said. "I think Melo is smart enough to balance those things. He doesn't like to sit out.

"I think he's savvy enough to make the right decision at the right time," Fisher added.

New York also was without Andrea Bargnani (right hamstring), Cleanthony Early (right knee), Iman Shumpert (left shoulder) and J.R. Smith (left foot).

Amare Stoudemire originally was expected to miss the game for a recovery day, but did end up playing.

Travis Wear took Anthony's spot in the starting lineup.

Anthony was recruited heavily by the Bulls during free agency. Instead of joining a championship contender, he took a maximum contract to stick with a New York team that entered Thursday with a 5-22 record.

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