Has the Stoudemire punch made the Knicks a stronger playoff team?

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire leaves American Airlines Arena with his hand in a sling after his...

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire leaves American Airlines Arena with his hand in a sling after his team's loss to the Heat in Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series in Miami, Fla., April 30, 2012. (ANDREW INNERARITY/Reuters)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:00 AM ET

TORONTO - The New York Knicks were on life support before Amar’e Stoudemire decided to take his frustrations out on a glass-enclosed fire extinguisher.

With or without Stoudemire, taking down the Miami Heat, which already has a 2-0 lead in the series, was long odds.

Stoudemire all but confirmed his own absence from the rest of the series when he decided that it was that extinguisher’s fault.

Tests in New York yesterday revealed no breaks and no ligament damage but the gash in his left hand is significant enough that he likely won’t play again this series.

Stoudemire, either purposely or inadvertently may have helped the Knicks’ slim chances to climb out of the hole they’re in.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson has been hearing since he took over from Mike D’Antoni that the Stoudemire/Carmleo Anthony duo was a match made in hell.

Both players are best with the ball in the their hands — and the more often that is, the better they are.

The problem, of course, is there is only one ball.

It’s why half the Knicks’ media corps has been saying for weeks that one should start and the other should come off the bench.

Woodson has steadfastly maintained his start-both-stars strategy and hoped for the best.

You can’t really blame him. Neither would take a demotion to the bench very well, but by playing them together, the results have not been all that successful.

Consider that the Knicks have played a total of 27 games this season with one or both of Stoudemire and Anthony out of the lineup.

In those 27 games (three without either), the Knicks are 18-9.

With just Anthony out of the lineup, the Knicks were 4-4. With just Stoudemire out, they were 11-5.

But with both score-first players in the lineup together, the Knicks are just 18-21.

It was almost comical reading the respective reactions to Stoudemire’s expected absence.

“Amar’e is a huge piece to this team,” centre Tyson Chandler told reporters after Game 2. “Without him, it’ll make it more difficult.”

“You all know what a big piece of the team he is for us, and it’s really just a piece of bad luck,” forward Steve Novak offered post-game. “But if he can’t play, we’ve just got to find a way to move forward and have guys step up.”

Stoudemire is without question an impressive talent in a league of impressive stars.

But on the floor at the same time, the two just seem to confuse the issue. Based on his 26 shots to the nine Stoudemire took, Anthony is obviously the guy Woodson wants shooting the ball leaving Stoudemire as little more than a diversion.

However, the Heat weren’t diverted. They knew who they had to pay attention to and they did.

Now without Stoudemire in the lineup, Anthony will move back to his more familiar position of power forward.

Interestingly, Anthony, who is believed to be close with Stoudemire, was the lone Knick quoted after the game who didn’t mention what a huge loss this would be for the team. Granted, he came across as saddened by the turn of events, but not necessarily because of the impact it might have on the team.

“It seems like there’s always something happening,” Anthony said about the drama surrounding the Knicks. “But at this point, it is what it is. We’ve got to move forward.”

And more than ever, that means the ball will be in Anthony’s hands which hasn’t been a bad thing.

GOT TO LET IT GO

As easy as it is to give the advice, it’s equally tough to act on it. For the better part of Tuesday and likely most of Wednesday, the Memphis Grizzlies will have heard those words printed in the lede-in to this brief or a reasonable facsimile of those words.

Losing a game after being up by 27 points is not easy to do — and once done is harder to forget.

But that’s exactly what Lionel Hollins is preaching after his team choked in a 99-98 loss to the Clippers in Game 1.

“It’s not like this is the only time this has happened,” Hollins told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Plenty of teams have lost big leads in the playoffs and have come back to win.”

What Hollins is saying is forget about all the mental anguish. Forget the fact you were up 27 points. Forget everything but the fact you are down 1-0 and have to come back better Wednesday night.

“One game is one game,” said Hollins. “You have to go play. Last year, Dallas was better than Portland. (In 2006), the Heat were the better team. If you’re good enough physically, you’ll get it done. If you’re not, you won’t.”

In other words, let it go and move on to the next game.

WHAT’S GOTTEN INTO DIRK?

Dirk Nowitzki is known for making a team pay with his shooting. In an another hotly contested Game 2 loss to Oklahoma City Thunder, Nowitzki did his talking with more than his game.

He physically challenged Kendrick Perkins at one point earning both players technicals, used a two-handed shove on Serge Ibaka later in the game when the two were running back up court after a Nowitzki make. The officials missed that all together but did see him shove another member of the Thunder objecting to some rough play. A lesser star would have received his second technical and a game ejection, but Dirk got away with it. Two games into the series and already Oklahoma is inside Nowitzki’s head.

Get him completely off his game, and this series could be done in four.

GET YOUR PHIL OF THIS!

Phil Jackson’s name may not be on an NBA playoff team lineup for the first time in 21 years, but his presence is still being felt.

Jackson, an 11-time NBA champ as a head coach, retired after a second-round elimination by the soon-to-be NBA champion Dallas Mavericks last spring.

True to his word, Jackson has remained retired but his influence in the game remains very strong.

George Karl, the Denver Nuggets head coach, is doing his best Jackson-like impersonation these days taking his complaints about what he believes to be illegal defence that helped Andrew Bynum to an unheard of 10 blocks in the series opener, to the media.

In Dallas, Rick Carlisle is playing the same bait-the-refs game in the media suggesting his star player Dirk Nowitzki is being manhandled by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Wisely, both coaching counterparts, Mike Brown in L.A. with the Lakers and Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City are pointing out just how Jackson-like all this is.

What will be interesting is to see whether any of it has an effect in the following games.


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