Carmelo Anthony came up clutch, Amar’e Stoudemire played through the pain and, for one night at least, the New York Knicks finally displayed the postseason fortitude they expected their two high-priced stars would provide.
Much-maligned in the first three games of a series dominated by the Miami Heat, Anthony scored a season-high 41 points and Stoudemire added 20 and 10 rebounds to help the Knicks avoid elimination with an 89-87 win at Madison Square Garden.
The victory snapped an NBA-record, 13-game playoff losing streak.
“It’s about time,” Knicks interim coach Mike Woodson said.
After missing one game following his post-game fight with a fire extinguisher case, Stoudemire played with an eight-layer wrap on his left hand that hampered his dribbling ability. But from dunks and layups to mid-range jumpers, he was on his game, connecting on 8 of 13 shots.
Anthony was even better. Three nights after barely shooting 30 percent from the floor, he hit 15 of 29 shots from the field and 10 of 14 from the free throw line. And while he did miss two of three free throws in the final 25 seconds, Anthony’s three-pointer gave his team the lead for good with just under one minute remaining.
But the win did not come without a cost. Veteran point guard Baron Davis dislocated his right kneecap during New York’s third-quarter run — an injury that further depletes a backcourt already without Iman Shumpert (torn ACL), Jeremy Lin (knee surgery) and Toney Douglas (torn labrum).
“I’m just glad that we came together after, kept our composure, kept on fighting and won the basketball game.”
Whether the Knicks can win another basketball game remains to be seen. Without Davis, they’re left with 33-year-old role player Mike Bibby and 23-year-old Landry Fields as viable point guard options... unless Lin can speed up his recovery process, that is.
Lin, who had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee on April 2, had hoped to return for Game 4, but was unable to do so. He has been practicing with the team on a limited basis and has said his recovery continues to be ahead of schedule.
The Knicks will need him more than ever on Wednesday night in Miami if they hope to extend the series to Game 6. New York is not expecting him back, but the headline on Will Leitch’s Monday column in New York Magazine reflects the sentiment of most Knicks fans: “If he can walk, Jeremy Lin should play Wednesday.”
But even with Lin in the lineup, can the Knicks pull out another win?