NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Amar’e Stoudemire’s difficult season may be over.
Stoudemire had a small muscle in his left hand repaired Tuesday and will not play for the Knicks in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat on Thursday.
Stoudemire met with a hand specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, a day after he was badly cut when he punched the case surrounding a fire extinguisher after the Knicks’ 104-94 loss in Miami.
The Knicks are listing Stoudemire as doubtful for Game 4 on Sunday. Actually, he’s “a big long shot” to return this series at all, the New York Post reported, citing sources.
The hope-shattering punch was due more to Stoudemire’s “intense dislike of the Heat and Chris Bosh” than hard feelings about his diminishing go-to guy status with the Knicks, according to the Post.
Stoudemire apologized on his Twitter account for the act, which leaves the Knicks without another key player as they try to rally from a 2-0 deficit. Jeremy Lin is still recovering from knee surgery and Iman Shumpert is out for the season after tearing a knee ligament in Game 1.
“We all have done thing out of anger that we regret,” Stoudemire wrote. “That makes us human. Bad timing on my part. Sorry guys. This (too) shall pass.”
Stoudemire scored 18 points in Game 2, though he didn’t get into a good flow until the fourth quarter, when the Knicks could never seriously challenge the Heat. But any hope of carrying the momentum from his positive finish into Thursday’s game at Madison Square Garden was lost during his walk back to the locker room.
“It’s tough. Your emotions run high. Split-second decisions can obviously alter things,” center Tyson Chandler said after the game. “You can’t fault anybody because I’m obviously a person that has high emotions at times. So one quick decision, make a mistake and now you’ve got to deal with the repercussions.”
Perhaps it was all the frustration built up during a tough season on and off the court.
Stoudemire missed time in February after his older brother died in a car accident. He then sat out 13 games late in the season with a bulging disk in his back, and when he did play had his worst statistical season since he was a rookie in 2002-03.
Reactions to his self-inflicted wound ranged from disbelief to criticism.
“And people talk about me. That’s what I’m saying. As much stuff as I do, I’ve never did nothing where I’m punching some glass in the middle of the playoffs, where I’m going to hurt my team,” the Spurs’ Stephen Jackson said.
“Throw the ball or kick the dresser. Don’t punch glass to where you can’t play. I know Amare has had a tough year with losing his family member. It’s been a tough year for him. And going down 0-2 is definitely frustrating in the playoffs when you have a good team. So I understand his frustration. But it’s definitely not the right thing to do at that time.”
The Knicks played well without Stoudemire down the stretch by moving Carmelo Anthony to power forward, where he could take advantage of slower opponents. But asking him to carry so much of the offensive load on his own is probably too much to ask against the Heat, who are 5-0 against the Knicks this season.
Stoudemire was an instant favorite when he decided to sign in New York in July 2010. Though the Knicks had been hoping to get some combination of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh, who all signed in Miami, Stoudemire confidently proclaimed that the Knicks were back.
He backed up his boast, leading them to their first playoff appearance since 2004. But he pulled a muscle in his back before Game 2 against Boston and wasn’t the same the rest of the series as the Knicks were swept.
He was never right this season. In part because he wanted to strengthen the back and partly because he wasn’t able to get on the court during the lockout, Stoudemire started the season 15 pounds above his usual playing weight of 245. It was clear his explosiveness was gone, and he wasn’t picked for the All-Star game in his hometown of Orlando.
But the Knicks needed whatever they could get from him in this series, especially with their previous injuries, plus Chandler battling the flu and Baron Davis a balky back.
By the time the news about Stoudemire broke after the game, many Heat players were already dressed and gone — apparently unaware of both the injury and its severity.
The Heat had a day off on Tuesday, with no players or coaches available for comment.
“We did what we’re supposed to do,” Bosh said Monday night. “We protected our home court. Now it’s their turn and New York is going to be ready. So we’re going to see a totally different team.”
At the time he said those words, Bosh had no idea how different the Knicks might really look.
Stoudemire questioned why he ranked below Bosh on most free agent lists in 2010, noting that he had been on winning teams in Phoenix and Bosh rarely had in Toronto.
Yet part of the Knicks’ problems against the Heat has been the power forward matchup. Bosh has averaged 18.5 points on 50 percent shooting while helping Miami go 7-1 against New York, counting playoffs, according to STATS, LLC. Stoudemire has scored 18.3 per game — though hasn’t reached that number in his last five games — while the Knicks have gone 2-6.
Stoudemire called this an “up-and-down” year for him last week before the Knicks’ final regular-season home game, acknowledging the difficulties he faced and saying how important it was to him emotionally to be playing again. He was looking forward to the postseason.
“It’s going to be a great, great run for us,” he said.
Not for Stoudemire, and it’s not looking that way for the Knicks, either.
“It was a really stupid thing to do,” Charles Barkley said on TNT on Monday, “but they were not going to beat the Miami Heat either way.”
After this episode, do you want to see Stoudemire in a Knicks uniform ever again? Sound off below…
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