It’s about damn time.
After more than 11 years since their last playoff game victory, the Knicks salvaged their season at least for another game, avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat with an 89-87 win today at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 41 points and six rebounds while the Heat were led by LeBron James’ 27 points.
Down 0-3 in the series and not knowing what they were going to get from Amar’e Stoudemire after he missed a game due to his imitation of Mayweather-Cotto on a fire extinguisher in Miami, the Knicks didn’t exactly come out like a team in desperate need of a win. The Heat jumped out to a 10-3 lead, quickly quieting a raucous MSG crowd. However Stoudemire was strong out the gate, scoring six points on 3-for-4 shooting to go along with four rebounds. The Knicks would recover, going on a 17-8 run to end the quarter and take a 20-18 lead.
Both teams were way off in the second quarter, shooting a combined 11-for-33 (33%). However, the Heat took advantage of 19 free throw attempts, making 14 of them compared to just eight from the Knicks and Miami would go into half time up 44-38.
In the third quarter, the injury bug bit the Knicks again, this time taking out Baron Davis. Driving towards the basket on a fast break attempt, Davis slipped to the court and clutched his right knee immediately. It was a gruesome injury, as players on the court tried their best not to look on. The Knicks reported the injury as a dislocated right patella and Davis will have further tests done on Monday.
The Knicks were on a 10-0 run at the time of Davis’ injury, cutting what was a 51-40 Miami led to just 51-50. Spurred on by a Garden crowd chanting Davis’ name, the Knicks continued their strong play. Carmelo Anthony in particular caught fire, scoring nine of his 11 third quarter points after the Davis injury. The Knicks turned a six-point half time deficit into a 64-61 lead, setting up a make or break fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was a battle of stars. First up to the plate was Dwayne Wade. In the first two minutes, Wade made a steal on a Mike Bibby bad pass, made two baskets and assisted on a Shane Battier bucket. He would finish with nine points in the quarter, including an insane block on an Anthony dunk attempt later in the period.
With eight and a half minutes left, Anthony subbed in and got to work. First he assisted on a Stoudemire dunk, making a great pass to the big man as he was cutting to the basket. He then started his scoring with just under six minutes left, driving in against Dwayne Wade and getting an and-1 basket to put the Knicks up by one.
With two minutes remaining, an Anthony jumper tied the game at 81. Following a missed trey from Chris Bosh, Mike Bibby hit a three of his own to give the Knicks a brief lead. James answered with a three of his own to tie it up but was answered by another trey, this time by Anthony.
With 26 seconds left, Anthony was fouled on a three-point attempt by Shane Battier but made just one of the three free throws. James answered with a ridiculous, and-1 layup that sent Chandler to the bench with his sixth foul. Following the free throw make, Stoudemire was fouled. With his heavily wrapped left hand, he calmly made both free throws. A last second three from Wade went awry and the Knicks got themselves their first win of the 2012 playoffs.
Despite the hand injury, Stoudemire had a strong game, scoring 20 points and hauling in 10 rebounds. If the Knicks hope to continue their season past Game 5 on Wednesday night, they’ll need the same effort from STAT. With the injury to Davis, there is talk of Jeremy Lin possibly returning for Game 5 and according to Alex Kennedy of hoopsworld.com, Lin should be able to play.