James dealt with sharp criticism from the Garden crowd Thursday night, shaking off a slow start for a big finish that put Miami on the cusp of the second round.
His 17 points in the fourth quarter were the most by anyone in a playoff game this season entering Friday, and matched the biggest final-quarter output of his postseason career. He also scored 17 against Orlando when playing for Cleveland on May 28, 2009.
“I played well enough to help our team win and that’s what it’s about,” James said. “I had some unforced turnovers that were careless on my part last night, but I stayed in tune with the game.”
The Knicks surpassed the 12 straight postseason losses by Memphis from 2004-06 and haven’t won in the playoffs since April 29, 2001, when they beat Toronto in Game 3 of a best-of-five series.
New York lost the next two games in the 2001 playoffs, then four more in 2004 and 2011.
Miami has won all three games by double figures and is 6-0 against New York counting the regular season. With Jeremy Lin and Iman Shumpert also out, the Heat can focus more attention on Carmelo Anthony, who is shooting just 34 percent from the field.
Having Stoudemire might help, though Woodson left open the possibility that Stoudemire would play but not start after throwing him right back into the starting lineup when he returned from a 13-game absence with a bulging disk in his back.
All the injuries, plus the death in February of his older brother and the ridicule he’s received since his injury, have made this a difficult season for Stoudemire. It’s likely to be over soon _ no NBA team has overcome a 3-0 deficit _ so he wants to be out there just in case.
“All the fans that stuck with me deserve to see me back on the court, but it’s mainly for my teammates because they’re working their butts off all season to be in this position to try to go to the next round,” Stoudemire said. “And for the guys that may not be back next year, I want to make sure I still leave a great memory on the court with them before it’s all said and done. Hopefully, we can get a win Sunday and take it to Miami for Wednesday.”
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