Rapid Reaction: Amare Stoudemire's injury

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
11:39
PM ET
WHAT HAPPENED: A team source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that Amare Stoudemire lacerated his left hand after punching the glass casing that protects the fire extinguisher outside the visitors' locker room at AmericanAirlines Arena. No MRIs or X-rays have been taken, but Stoudemire was seen leaving the building with his left hand heavily bandaged and his arm in a sling. He will travel back to New York with the team, but his status for Game 3 on Thursday is unknown.

WHAT IT MEANS: After going 18-6 under Mike Woodson, the Knicks have pulled a complete 180 in the playoffs, and a lot of that has to do with their health situation. From Tyson Chandler to Baron Davis to Jared Jeffries, and now Stoudemire is banged up.

"It's a tough situation," Woodson said after the game, mentioning that he wasn't aware of what happened to Stoudemire. "It seems like something always happens. It is what it is at this point. We have to move forward."

Apparently, Game 2's in the first round are not kind to Stoudemire. Last year against the Celtics, he pulled a muscle in his lower back during pregame warmups before Game 2.

So what does it mean for the Knicks if Stoudemire doesn't play? It means, quite simply, that on offense Carmelo Anthony and the team's main 3-point shooters (J.R. Smith and Steve Novak) have to be on -- just like they were from March 26 to April 18 when Stoudemire was inactive due to a bulging disk in his lower back. During that stretch, the Knicks went an impressive 9-4 (also without Jeremy Lin).

It's clear at this point, in the season and a half that Anthony and Stoudemire have played together, that neither can really co-exist on the court like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade do. Stoudemire would definitely benefit from playing with a consistent and proven point guard (like Steve Nash, Raymond Felton and Lin in the past), but Davis and Mike Bibby aren't in that caliber. Right now, STAT, because of his isolation scoring ability, would seem like a better fit with the subs, but Woodson has shied away from implementing that lineup during games.

In the first unit, Melo needs his touches, and he'll get plenty of them in Game 3 if Stoudemire is out. If that's the case, you may see Baron Davis, Landry Fields, Anthony, Jared Jeffries and Tyson Chandler in the starting five. Woodson still likes Smith, who's a better scorer and defender than Fields, coming off the bench.

The Knicks will obviously miss Stoudemire's scoring off pick-and-rolls, but fortunately Chandler was healthier Monday night and scored more in those situations. After the game, the center didn't receive any IV fluids (like he did after Game 1) and he looked visibly fine. He even said he felt much better. That's at least a positive sign for the Knicks, because without two big men who know how to screen and slip, the Knicks would be very limited generating offense outside of Anthony. Chandler will be needed in a bigger way offensively Thursday night.

If Stoudemire doesn't play, his energy and playoff leadership will still come in handy on the bench, especially talking to the younger guys and pumping them up. That's what he's brought to the court, and there's no reason why he won't be another helpful voice on the sideline.

Overall, this has been a trying season for Stoudemire, from the death of his older brother, Hazell, to his bulging disk, and now he has to deal with a deep wound that will heal soon -- but probably not in time for the Knicks to make a comeback. Unfortunately, frustration continues to mount for basketball fans in New York, who will most likely have to wait until at least next season for the Knicks to compete for their first championship in 40 years.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
23.2 3.2 0.6 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.4
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.0
StealsS. Larkin 1.4
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.4