Some folks gave the New York Knicks a puncher’s chance in their first-round series against the Miami Heat.
In a remarkably stupid act, Amar’e Stoudemire expressed his frustration after Monday’s 104-94 loss in Miami by punching the glass of a fire extinguisher encasement. He cut his left hand so badly that he required stitches and left American Airlines Arena with his arm in a sling.
TNT’s David Aldridge reported that teammate Tyson Chandler said Stoudemire would be “out,” although he was not specific about how long. Others indicated the same thing.
From Al Iannazzone of Newsday: “Carmelo Anthony looked as if he was ready to take on LeBron James and the Miami Heat Big Three all by himself Monday night. He may have to for the rest of this playoff series. Amar’e Stoudemire was so frustrated after the Knicks’ 104-94 Game 2 loss that he punched a fire extinguisher that was inside a glass case and suffered a laceration to his left hand. Stoudemire received stitches and left AmericanAirlines Arena with his hand heavily taped and his arm in a sling. He didn’t speak to reporters. The Knicks, who are down 0-2 in the best-of-seven series to the Heat, had no updates other than Stoudemire will be evaluated Tuesday. But Tyson Chandler said Stoudemire won’t play in Game 3 on Thursday at the Garden. ”We just know right now that he has a laceration and he’s probably going to be out,” Chandler said. “It’s tough obviously. Amar’e is a huge part of this team. Without him, it’s going to make it more difficult. We already lost one player. That’s two players out of the starting lineup; it makes it tougher.”
It is the second significant injury in as many games for the Knicks, who lost guard Iman Shumpert to a torn ACL in Game 1. New York has looked – and acted – every bit its seventh seed, unable to compete for 48 minutes both physically and mentally with second-seeded Miami.
Stoudemire’s frustration may be rooted in the fact that he is 0-6 in the postseason since arriving in New York, but that only tells half the story. The Knicks have lost 12 straight playoff games, tying the NBA record held by the Memphis Grizzlies.
New York simply does not have the firepower to hang with Miami’s “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. In Game 1, the Knicks had competitively checked out before halftime. In Game 2, they hung around a bit longer, but not long enough to make the fourth quarter meaningful.
From Howard Beck of the New York Times: “There was no shortage of shots this time, no clever defenses to get between Carmelo Anthony and the ball and mute his talents. The Knicks’ difficulties Monday night were so much deeper. They could not slow down LeBron James, or Dwyane Wade or even Chris Bosh. And although they found a way to free Anthony from the Miami Heat’s clutches, he was neither efficient nor effective enough to take advantage as the Knicks were routed, 104-94, and fell behind, 0-2, in this first-round series. James, Wade and Bosh combined for 65 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds as the Heat gave the Knicks their first two-game losing streak since Mike Woodson became the coach. The series moves to Madison Square Garden for the next two games, with Game 3 on Thursday. Anthony, who was held to 11 points in the opener, rebounded with a 30-point game. But he made only 12 of 26 shots, going 6 for 15 over the final three quarters as the Heat pulled away. The Knicks trailed by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter and never got closer than 9.”
And from Ethan Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post: ” It came from everywhere, and everyone. It came from Dwyane Wade early, a five-field goal flurry in just eight minutes, not just on dashes to the hoop but also by flashing a jumper that appeared unaffected by his finger dislocation. It came from LeBron James throughout, on both ends, setting up teammates with nine slick assists, stifling any Knicks momentum by sticking close to Carmelo Anthony. It came from Chris Bosh mostly on the interior, with the Heat’s stand-in center standing consistently firm. It came from Mario Chalmers at the start of the fourth, and it came from Shane Battier and Mike Miller from behind the three-point line. And so, after a 104-94 Heat win, it’s easy to come to a conclusion: There’s nothing for Miami to fear in this series, which is now 2-0, so long as it continues to be so collectively effective, while New York continues to rely almost singularly on its shooting star.”
Game 3 is Thursday in New York. It is highly unlikely that a change of venue is going to change the direction of this series. Instead, look for Miami to deliver a knockout punch.
While defending East champ Miami is off to a flying start, the defending NBA champs are not. The Dallas Mavericks are in an 0-2 hole, primarily because Kevin Durant made a shot and Jason Terry didn’t.
In Saturday’s Game 1, Durant’s off-balance, leaning jumper hit the rim, the backboard and dropped through, giving the second-seeded Thunder a 99-98 win. In Monday’s Game 2, Oklahoma City did not make a basket over the final 4:52 but pulled out a 101-98 victory by going 6-of-6 from the line in the last 50 seconds.
After two free throws by James Harden gave OKC a 102-99 lead with 15 seconds left, Dallas opted not to call timeout – a decision by Rick Carlisle we totally agreed with – and pushed the ball upcourt. Terry missed a potential tying 3-pointer that was rebounded by teammate Vince Carter. Terry got another chance – this one a bit deeper – and missed again.
In last year’s conference finals, the Mavs won in five games primarily because of better execution down the stretch. The Thunder were viewed as a young, emotional group not quite ready for the postseason pressure cooker. While the Mavs have not quite melted down in the first two games, the Thunder clearly have gotten better in late-game execution at both ends.
From Berry Tramel of the Daily Oklahoman: “Maverick sharpshooter Jason Terry has called the Thunder the little brother in this rivalry, and maybe that’s true. But maybe not for long. A year ago in the West finals, Dallas beat the Boomers with down-the-stretch execution. The Thunder didn’t exactly execute its way to victory Monday, but it kept the Mavs from doing the same. On Dallas’ final five possessions, the Mavs scored just once — a virtual uncontested layup by Jason Terry that OKC was glad to give up, since it protected a three-point lead and forced the Mavs to play the foul game. On this night, that was a loser for Dallas. The Thunder made 37 of 39 foul shots, with its final four points coming from James Harden at the line in the final 25.5 seconds. In the final two minutes, the Thunder got a steal (Kevin Durant, on a Jason Kidd pass) and three other stops. Two Thunder thorns, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, combined to miss four shots in the final 73 seconds.”
The Mavs can look at this series two ways. They can take some solace in the fact that they had a chance to win each of the first two games in one of the toughest road venues in the league and maintain a positive attitude that they can break through in Game 5 or 7. Or they can feel sorry for themselves, assume playing at home will guarantee them a win and bow out of the playoffs a week after they have begun.
From Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: “The basketball gods that live up there on the rim and decide which shots trickle in and which ones don’t aren’t Maverick fans right now. Dirk Nowitzki’s 15-foot fadeaway on the baseline bounced all around the rim and refused to go through the net on Monday night. That hard-luck miss in the late going proved lethal as the Mavericks lost a second consecutive heartbreaker to the Oklahoma City Thunder, dropping a 102-99 decision to fall behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven first-round series. Two nights earlier, Kevin Durant had launched a 15-foot jump shot that clanged off the rim and bounced through the net. Luck can be a cruel witch. “We just haven’t made enough plays,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s tough, no question about it. We’ve had opportunities and we haven’t cashed in. As my good friend (Rangers’ manager) Ron Washington would say, that’s how baseball go. Hey, they held serve. We got to go home and hold serve. We come away disappointed, but not dismayed.” Say all you want about how the Mavericks shouldn’t let it come down to that. But in the playoffs, that’s the way it works out sometimes. Nowitzki’s miss was rebounded by James Harden, who hit two free throws with 25.5 seconds left to make it a 100-97. After Jason Terry scored, the Mavericks had to foul and Harden made two more foul shots with 15.6 to go. Jason Terry got two looks at a 3-pointer on the final possession, but neither went down. The final two minutes again doomed the Mavericks. “That 3-ball I had in the corner, that’s game time if we go up four,” Nowitzki said. “The game’s over. I had a good look. The other one, the fadeaway, I’ve made it a hundred times. It bounced, hit every part of the rim and bounced off.”
In the game not on TNT, the third-seeded Pacers again had issues with the undersized, undermanned, sixth-seeded Magic before awaking in the second half for a 93-78 home victory that evened their series at one game apiece.
The Magic are without Dwight Howard, which leaves them pretty much with a rotation of role players. To have any chance, they have to outwork the Pacers, who have spent the entire season playing harder than their opponents.
But Indiana fell asleep at the end of its Game 1 loss – missing its last nine shots – and did some sleepwalking in the first half of Game 2 before snapping out of it in the third quarter.
From Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic seemed to have the Indiana Pacers on the ropes at halftime of Game 2 of their postseason series Monday night. The Magic weathered an early Pacers run to begin the game, then stormed back to take the lead by piling up one offensive rebound after another. Then, Orlando suddenly fell flat just as Indiana ramped up its effort. That energy disparity made all the difference. The Pacers overwhelmed the Magic in the third quarter, broke open a close game and won 93-78 to even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. “They beat us with their effort and their energy tonight, and that’s not acceptable,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. Orlando made just 35.5 percent of its shots and gave up 22 fastbreak points while scoring only two fastbreak points of its own. “They just outhustled us,” Magic center Glen Davis said afterward in his team’s quiet locker room.”
Davis might be the biggest reason the Magic are headed back to Orlando with homeccourt advantage. He has more than held his own against Pacers All-Star center Roy Hibbert, who has five inches on the 6-9 Davis. Through two games, Davis has 34 points and 23 rebounds; Hibbert has 12 and 26.
From Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “We have now officially entered an alternative Orlando Magic universe. A universe where up is down. And black is white. And hot is cold. And — are you ready for this? – Glen “Big Baby” Davis is a team leader. What a wild, whacked-out season it has been. The Magic, after the 93-78 Game 2 playoff loss to the Indiana Pacers Monday night, come back home to the Amway Center for Game 3 tied 1-1. But at least there is some hope now, and it is emanating from the unlikeliest of all beacons: The erratic, enigmatic Big Baby. No question, the Magic are going to have to shoot better than they have in Games 1 and 2 if they expect to win this series. Ryan Anderson, the team’s leading scorer, has been a non-factor in the first two games. Jason Richardson scored only two points Monday night. Point guard Jameer Nelson hit only 3-of-12 shots and scored eight points. And the Magic gave up more than half their points on fastbreaks and second chances. “We got absolutely dominated by their effort and energy in the second half,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. Who would have ever thought that the least of Van Gundy’s worries would be Davis, who has given the Magic a formidable inside presence they never dreamed they would have when Dwight Howard’s season ended?”