The Knicks head to Miami for tonight’s Game 5 down 3-1, undermanned and without any help on the way, as interim head coach Mike Woodson said, “Jeremy [Lin] will not play in this series.”
Lin isn’t the only hobbled Knicks player as the team is already without the services of rookie Iman Shumpert and veteran point guard Baron Davis, who both suffered crippling knee injuries.
Woodson said Lin’s availability was irrelevant because they had gone so long without him.
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“The test came following his workouts (the 3-on-3 scrimmages), whether Jeremy could cut, guard people, handle the ball and make plays for others off the dribble. He talked about how he wanted to play, but again it wasn’t in the cards,” said Woodson.
Carmelo Anthony, fresh off an epic 41-point explosion in the Game 4 win, said he hasn’t lost faith despite the mounting drama.
“We’ll just try to utilize to the best we can who we have [in uniform]. Guys that are healthy need to just stay healthy,” said Anthony. “Everybody is pushing harder and with more focus. [The Heat] see us hurting so they’re going at us. It what it is. It’s a challenge in not knowing what’s going to happen, but I personally need to jump up and take this challenge.”
Anthony finally met the challenge offensively in Game 4, but overall he’s had a rough series. He said while their calling card for success has been defense this season, the real key on Wednesday will be whether he and his teammates can put the ball in the basket.
“For the most part defensively we’re doing a pretty good job. But it’s just like I said when the lid is on the basket and you’re not making shots, it makes it tough for everybody,” said Anthony. “We’ve had spurts where we were back to playing basketball, back to having fun. But it gets frustrating when you’re not making them.
“We could play all the defense in the world and could stop them, but it still means putting the ball in the hole. And at the end of the day that [missing shots] gets frustrating. … Eventually, the ball will find its way in [because] we’ve got guys that can make those shots we’re missing right now. They’re just not going in for us. But I’m a true believer the [next] ball will go in.”
“When you look into their eyes after something like this happened you wonder as a coach are they mentally there,” Woodson said. “I just told them to take a deep breath and relax. … I think they’ll respond.”
»Woodson had high praise for Lin as a rising star and said if the soon-to-be free agent point guard returns to the Knicks next season that fans should still give him a grace period: “He’s a point guard that’s still in that learning mode. He’s trying to be a great point guard, [but] as of right now he’s just a good point guard. In time, I think he’s going to be a really great point guard in this league. All great point guards eventually learn how to get their guys going offensively, defend a little bit and figure it out themselves. … And that’s the learning curve he’s going through right now.”
»Anthony said he did all he could to persuade Lin from rushing back too soon: “I talked to Jeremy. We had a private conversation about his return. What we talked about I’ll keep that between ourselves. But to me, my main thing is his health. If he’s not 100 percent healthy, 110 percent healthy, then there’s no need to come out there. There was no telling how many minutes he was going to play coming back [because] he hasn’t been playing. I just want him to take care of himself.”
»Stoudemire is well aware he’s returning to the scene of his mishap and said he’ll be cognizant of his surroundings this time: “When I go back to Miami, I don’t even want to look at that fire extinguisher.”
»Steve Novak said he knows the task is daunting, but still feels confident in sending this series back to New York: “We’re not hanging our heads. We know we have to take this thing one game at a time and we look forward to that. … We have to hope that some of our matchups don’t agree with how they want to defend us.”
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.