DENVER - Carmelo Anthony still has a tiny fracture in a bone in his right hand. However, it's nothing that a little white athletic tape can't remedy.
The Denver forward has been cleared by his doctor to play tonight against Charlotte, provided he tapes up his two middle fingers to protect the healing hand.
"No tape, no play," Anthony said after a strenuous workout on the court Thursday that lasted around an hour. "That was (the doctor's) quote - got to listen to that."
Anthony was injured Jan. 5 when Indiana center Jeff Foster swatted at the ball, catching a good chunk of Anthony's shooting hand. Anthony played through the second half despite numbness.
Afterward, he found out the hand had a fracture and he'd be out around four weeks.
Turns out, he's a fast healer.
"The doc didn't know how well my hand was going to heal," Anthony said. "(Thursday), he was surprised at how well it healed. I healed faster than I thought, faster than he thought."
Anthony realizes the hand is now an open invitation for even more swipes from opposing players. Not that he's concerned.
"There's nothing I can do to prevent it but sit out," he said.
Hardly an option - Anthony is sick of sitting on the sideline. He's already missed 10 games because of the fractured hand, the team going 6-4 in his absence.
"I'm so excited to have him back," Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups said. "We need him desperately right now."
The injury did give Anthony a unique vantage point, picking up on the subtleties of the game.
"When you sit on the sideline in games, it becomes clearer to you," said Anthony, who is averaging 21.1 points and 7.3 rebounds this season.
"You start seeing things you probably wouldn't see out there on the court."
He became an extra set of eyes for Kenyon Martin and Billups, telling them what he was observing when they came back to the bench during timeouts.
"It's a different perspective sitting there," Anthony said.
He's done his fair share of watching this season, missing 15 games - two while serving a team suspension, three more because of a balky elbow and then the fractured bone in his hand.
While the hand is feeling better, he said the elbow is still slightly bothersome. The time off helped, but it didn't cure the nagging right elbow.
"That's something that's not going to get better in two weeks, three weeks," he said. "That's going to take time to actually heal up."
Anthony, a two-time All-Star, put himself through an intense practice Thursday, going up against Nuggets assistant coach Jamahl Mosley in a game of one-on-one. Anthony dribbled just fine and released the ball with ease - no hint the hand was bothering him.
"It felt good out there," Anthony said.