NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony’s shoulder is barking.
He is shooting horribly.
His team is facing a younger, bigger and more physical team.
And the Knicks are now down 1-0 in their Eastern Conference playoff series after the Indiana Pacers stole Game 1, 102-95 at Madison Square Garden.
But Melo says there’s no cause for alarm.
“This was the first game,” Anthony said after shooting 10-of-28 for 27 points.
“They outworked us, they outplayed us today and they stole one on our home court. We’ll go back tomorrow and make our adjustments for Tuesday’s game. I’ll leave those calls up to Coach [Mike] Woodson and his staff to figure that out. And we’ll come back with our adjustments being made here on Tuesday.”
After taking a 3-0 lead on the Celtics in the first round, the Knicks have now lost three of their last four playoff games.
During those four games, Anthony has gone 35-of-110 from the field and 2-of-22 from the arc.
Make no mistake, the Knicks won’t be able to reach their goals if those numbers continue.
“They’re being really physical with Melo,” teammate Raymond Felton said after scoring 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. “They banging him, they hitting him, they going at his shoulder.”
Kevin Garnett tugged on Anthony’s left arm in Game 5 of the Celtics series, causing Anthony to wince in pain. Avery Bradley then collided with Anthony’s shoulder in Game 6, and Melo said his shoulder “kinda popped in and out.”
He wore a protective sleeve under his jersey against the Pacers and said that made a big difference, even as he was bumped and banged by Paul George and David West while battling his own foul trouble.
“It actually helped it, to be honest with you” he said. “It keeps it in place. I was surprised at some of the hits I was taking today, it wasn’t affecting me like it has been in the past….I’ll be fine. I’ve been hit harder than that.”
After spending much of the season playing the four in a smaller lineup, Anthony did spend some time at the small forward spot, with both Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin in the Knicks’ big lineup.
But he dismissed the lineup change as a contributing factor in the loss.
“They’re a bigger team,” he said. “We done beat them with me at the four and we done lost to them with me at the four, so I don’t want to panic and overanalyze that situation.”
The Knicks expect to get Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Novak back for Game 3, which should give them more size and shooting, but if they are down 0-2 going back to Indiana, it may not even matter.
Anthony did score 15 points in the fourth quarter when the Knicks outscored the Pacers, 31-20, but it was too little, too late.
J.R. Smith had another rough night, going 4-of-15 for 17 points. Chandler was badly outplayed by Roy Hibbert and managed just four points and three boards.
“In order to win this series we need J.R. and Carmelo scoring,” Felton said in the understatement of the year.
During Melo’s surge in the fourth quarter, the Garden fans dutifully chanted “MVP”
But his latest struggles came on the same day that LeBron James officially won his fourth MVP in five years, garnering 120 of 121 possible votes.
(Who voted for Melo? We still don’t know. Read that story here.)
Anthony got the only other first-place vote and finished third behind King James and Kevin Durant, who earlier Sunday led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 93-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I’ll take that vote,” Anthony cracked.
“I came in this season with a total different mindset than I had in the past, as far as me as an individual, as far as our team. My goals was to win 50 games this year, to win our division, to get out the first round, and hopefully make it past the second round.
“That was my goals. So far everything’s been going the way I planned it, the way I saw it, and we still here. So far as the MVP thing goes, LeBron gets it. I take my off to him. He deserves it. He had a helluva year. They had a helluva year, to win 27 straight games, you can’t top that. So I take my hat off to LeBron for winning that award.”
(Meantime, LeBron told ESPN his goal is to be “the best of all time, the greatest of all time and I’m going to put that pressure on myself.”)
Everything has gone the way Anthony planned so far, but if Melo and the Knicks are to continue to achieve their preseason goals, things will have to change.
And change quickly beginning in Game 2.
**For Video, Notes and Quotes from NBA.com, read my Notebook here.
Photo: Daily News