The New York Knicks picked themselves up and won without him.
Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points, J.R. Smith added 18 and the Knicks overcame a 22-point deficit and the loss of Anthony, their All-Star forward who went out with a knee injury in the first half, to beat the Cavaliers 102-97 on Monday night and end a 10-game losing streak in Cleveland.
Steve Novak made three of New York's seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and added 15 points as the Knicks, sparked by their second unit, shook off a tough home loss on Sunday, when they blew a 16-point lead to Miami.
The Knicks trailed 52-30 in the second quarter when Anthony got twisted up after catching a pass near midcourt and dropped to the floor. Following the game, Anthony said the knee has been bothering him for several weeks.
"It's just sore, not pain, sore and stiffness," Anthony said in a crowded corridor outside New York's locker room. "It's been going on for a while now."
Anthony, who entered the game tied with Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant for the NBA scoring lead, said he underwent an MRI "a couple days ago." He said the test results were negative, and he does not yet know if he'll be able to play Wednesday night when the Knicks visit Detroit.
"Today I just woke up and you know how some days you really don't feel right," he said. "I came out here and I tried to warm up and I thought it was going to loosen up before the game, but some of the things that I was doing I felt like I was dragging it."
Kyrie Irving scored 22 points in his first game back after missing Cleveland's past three with a hyperextended right knee. Irving added six assists and five rebounds in 36 minutes.
After New York's Jason Kidd split a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left, the Cavaliers had a chance to tie it.
Coach Byron Scott put the ball in the hands of Irving, who scored a career-high 41 against the Knicks on Dec. 15. The dazzling point guard couldn't beat Tyson Chandler off the dribble and then had his 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left blocked cleanly by New York's 7-foot-1 centre.
"I knew they were going to him," Chandler said. "I knew if I got switched on him I would force him to drive. He went for the 3-point shot and I kind of baited him into shooting where I could still get to the shot."
Smith was fouled and made two free throws in the final second to close out a win the Knicks needed badly. They are just 18-16 after opening the season 18-5.
New York's bench outscored the Knicks starters 70-32.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson sat Stoudemire for the final eight minutes on Sunday, prompting some serious second-guessing by New York's fans and media. Before facing the Cavs, Woodson said he would use Stoudemire when the matchups were right and the occasion called for the power forward.
With Anthony out, Woodson needed every second he could get out of Stoudemire, who powered inside for a critical putback with 39.5 seconds left to put the Knicks ahead 99-95.
"I've been a competitor my whole career," Stoudemire said. "I've had a lot of success in this league so far. I know how the game is played. Whenever my number's called I'll be ready and tonight I was ready."
Irving responded for the Cavs with a left-handed layup, but on New York's next trip, Chandler did a nice job tapping out a miss by Stoudemire and Cleveland had to foul Kidd, who couldn't close it out at the line and the Knicks had to turn to their defence to complete the comeback.
The Knicks were down by 22 and looking pathetic when Anthony caught a pass from Kidd near midcourt, tripped over his own feet and hit the deck. He stayed on his back for several seconds, got up and without talking to New York's trainers headed directly to the locker room. Anthony didn't appear to be injured and seemed to be more embarrassed than anything.
With Anthony out and icing his knee, the Knicks went on a 17-4 run and closed within 61-49 at halftime — not bad, considering how poorly they had played.
"I was about ready to leave the arena," Woodson said. "We couldn't get any stops. It was awful. I thought maybe we were tired or we were drained."
Woodson started Stoudemire and Smith in the second half and the Knicks opened the third with a 15-3 spurt, catching the Cavs at 64-all.
The Cavs were without rookie starters Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, who were both stricken with a nasty stomach virus over the weekend. They were taken to the hospital to get fluids, but were resting at home during the game.
Cleveland's Marreese Speights made his first 10 shots and finished with 23 points. Luke Walton added a career-high 12 assists for the Cavs, who were in control but wound up losing at home to the Knicks for the first time since 2006.
"We're not that good yet to be able to turn that switch on and off," C.J. Miles said. "We've got to play that way all the time. We've got to play hard all the time. There's talent on the team, but there's not enough years to go with the talent. You live and learn, but we should have learned by now."
NOTES: It was New York's first win when trailing by at least 20 since Dec. 18, 2009 vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. ... Anthony had six points and three turnovers before he got hurt. ... Knicks C Marcus Camby played for the first time since Jan. 10. He had been sidelined with plantar fasciitis. ... Former Knicks sartorial star Walt "Clyde" Frazier received a nice ovation when he was shown on the arena's scoreboard. Frazier played 66 games for Cleveland in the 1970s after he was traded by New York. ... According to Forbes, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is worth $3.5 billion. In the magazine's annual ranking of the world's billionaires, Gilbert is 348th. He has added more than $1.5 billion to his net worth since September — and $2 billion over the last year. Gilbert controls about 40 companies.