MIAMI – Amar’e Stoudemire walked off the court after yet another New York Knicks playoff loss, frustrated, fuming, dismissed again by the Miami Heat. A little more than an hour later, he would leave American Airlines Arena with his left hand heavily bandaged, his arm in a sling and both his and the Knicks' immediate futures in doubt.
In between, Stoudemire punched a fire extinguisher case in the Knicks' locker room, mangling his left hand on the glass and causing a chaotic scene that saw paramedics wheel a stretcher into the room. Stoudemire needed stitches to close the gash on his hand, but flew home to New York with the Knicks.
A Knicks spokesman said Stoudemire's status for Thursday's Game 3 is uncertain, but it appears unlikely he'll play then – or even again this postseason. The Knicks were already gasping after Monday's 104-94 loss dropped them in a 2-0 hole against the Heat, and Stoudemire's ill-advised punch now threatens to extinguish any hopes they had of climbing back into the series.
“I am so mad at myself right now," Stoudemire said on his Twitter account late Monday. "I want to apologize to the fans and my team, not proud of my actions, headed home for a new start."
Stoudemire didn't speak as he was ushered to the Knicks' bus by team and security personnel who pushed away reporters, leaving unanswered the one big question: What made him so angry to put his hand through glass?
Given the state of the Knicks – whose 12th consecutive playoff loss tied an NBA record – it could have been any number of things.
[Related: Jeremy Lin unsure when he'll play]
The last few months have worn on Stoudemire, both personally and professionally. He took a leave of absence from the Knicks in February after his brother died in a car accident. A bulging disk in his back forced him to miss 13 games late in the season, and he hasn't regained the form that made him a six-time All-Star. He received just seven shots in Game 1 and nine in Game 2 and is averaging 13.5 points in the series.
"There were a lot of emotions running through, mainly frustration," Knicks guard J.R. Smith said. "There is just a desire to play well and do well for our city. We’re just not doing that right now."
The Knicks were at least competitive in Game 2. In the series' opener, they lost by 33 points. Rookie guard Iman Shumpert, their best perimeter defender, was lost for the season when he tore his left ACL in Game 1. Jeremy Lin, who started at point guard during New York's strongest stretch of the season, is still sidelined after recovering from knee surgery. Now the Knicks will likely have to make do without Stoudemire.
"He’s probably going to be out,” center Tyson Chandler said. "…Amar’e is a huge part of this team. Without him, it’ll make it more difficult. We already lost one player in the starting lineup [Shumpert]. That’s two players out of the starting lineup.
"Your emotions run high. In a split-second a decision can alter things. You can’t fault anybody. We got to deal with the repercussions."
Hanging over the Knicks' latest drama is the question of whether Stoudemire and All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony can coexist in New York. Stoudemire was the toast of Broadway after signing a $100 million contract before the start of last season. Anthony arrived in a trade seven months later, and the Knicks figured they were headed for brighter days. Instead, Chauncey Billups got hurt in the playoffs and New York was swept by the Boston Celtics.
This season has brought only more frustration, leading to coach Mike D'Antoni's departure in March. Anthony averaged a team-high 22.6 points during the regular season and scored 30 on Monday, but his 26 shots in Game 2 were 10 more than Stoudemire has attempted in the series.
Still, Anthony thinks he and Stoudemire, when healthy, can thrive together.
“I don’t know where that question comes from," Anthony said. "Of course we can. We have to."
That's likely not the case for at least the next game. When Anthony and the Knicks take the court on Thursday, Stoudemire isn't expected to be with them.
“It’s a tough situation,” Anthony said. “It seems like it’s always something happening. We're snake bit.”
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