With the New York Knicks losing in the First Round of the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs 2-0 and Amaré Stoudemire out for Game 3, after punching a fire extinguisher enclosed in a glass case and cutting his hand; the orange and blue still were able to find something to celebrate during their 2012 postseason.Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald and Head Coach Mike Woodson joined Knicks center Tyson Chandler as he was awarded the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award at the MSG Training Facility in Greenburgh, on Wednesday, May 2. Photo by Albert Coqueran “]On Wednesday, May 2, at the Madison Square Garden Training Facility in Greenburgh, Knicks center Tyson Chandler was awarded the 2011-12 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
When Michael Tucci, director of regional operations for Kia Motors presented Chandler the award, it was the first time in history that a Knick won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. “It is huge. I did not know that I was the first Knick ever to win the award until just before the press conference,” revealed Chandler. “It is a great honor and I am glad that I was able to win this award, not only for myself but for the Knicks organization.”
If you are questioning why renowned defensive expert Walt “Clyde” Frazier never won the award? The Defensive Player of the Year Award did not exist during Clyde’s NBA career.
Chandler averaged 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 0.9 steals a game during the regular season. The Knicks 7-foot-1 center was an intricate part in advancing the Knicks to a top five defensive efficiency rating this year, which changed the defensive culture of Knicks basketball. “I could not be more proud of Tyson Chandler then I am today. He is the perfect fit for what I look for as a defensive player. To have the opportunity to coach him is a dream come true,” stated Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson.
For his efforts Chandler received a brand new Kia Sorento, which he donated to the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Rush Philanthropic was started by media mogul Russell Simmons. Rush donates art galleries to New York City public schools and does a lot of work with disenfranchised populations. “It is really great to receive a gift of this magnitude from someone of Tyson Chandler’s stature,” thanked Tangie Murray, the Executive Director of Rush Philanthropic.
However, with Stoudemire added to the injury list for Game 3, which already included Iman Shumpert and Jeremy Lin, the Knicks sustained another loss in the first round playoff series, 87-70, against the Miami Heat.
Lebron “King” James got into foul trouble after scoring only three points in the third quarter of Game 3. The King played a mere four minutes and 37 seconds of the third quarter and still ended the game with 32 points.
The shorthanded Knicks fought hard in Game 3. They were in the game at the end of the third quarter, losing by only two points, 58-56. Nonetheless, James jumped off the bench at the start of the fourth quarter, adjusted his crown, and scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter. Furthermore, the King scored the first eleven points for the Heat in the fourth quarter.
James had 17 points in the fourth quarter and outscored the entire Knicks team in that period, as the Heat outscored the Knicks, 29-14. Game 3 transcended in one quarter from a two-point third quarter deficit, to an 87-70, Heat’s win.
Heat guard Dwayne Wade, the second of the “Big Three” that also includes James and center Chris Bosh, averaged 21 points per game and shot 55 percent in the first four games of the playoff series.
Therefore, Knicks fans must remember, it was not just the Knicks injuries that had them down 3-1, after four games of the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs; but the Knicks are playing the dynamic Miami Heat. Note: James, with 32 points in Game 1, outscored the entire starting five for the Knicks.
Nonetheless, there was one Knicks injury that may have had more of an impact on the Knicks playoff chances than any other injury, even possibly more than Stoudemire’s injury in Game 3, and that was the knee injury to Lin.
Without Lin the Knicks lost their true point guard and their ability to penetrate Miami’s defense. Therefore, Miami was able to completely shutdown Knicks guard Steve Novak, the NBA’s leading three-point shooter, who shot 47 percent from the arc on the season.
With the Knicks minus Lin, Miami could concentrate on guarding the perimeter, which left Heat defenders swarming Novak whenever he was in the game.
Novak shot only one three-pointer while not scoring in 22 minutes of Game 3. He had only one three-point shot which he made in Game 4. Moreover, Novak was only able to manage seven total three-point shots for the first four games of the playoffs series, totaling a mere 12 points.
Also, if Lin played in the first four games of the series, his penetration would have created better looks at the basket for Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Furthermore, the Lin/Chandler pick-and-role combination helped Chandler lead the NBA in scoring-average this season with 68 percent.
Nevertheless, the Knicks came back to win Game 4 against the Heat, 89-87, at Madison Square Garden on the backs of Anthony and Stoudemire. Stoudemire returned with his hand bandaged and had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes. Anthony and Stoudemire combined for 61 of the Knicks’ 89 points to leave the Knicks fans some hope, heading to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday, May 9.
Anthony shocked the Garden faithful by scoring 41 points in Game 4. Furthermore, Anthony scored each and every time the Knicks needed a basket. “We rode him and Amaré both,” commented Woodson. “I thought Amaré was huge coming down the stretch as well. But Melo made every play that we needed to make and we expect that from him.”
Therefore, if Stoudemire had not been injured for Game 3, could this have been a tied series after four games? There was a very good chance of that outcome, as Miami was vulnerable in Game 3.
Should we fault Stoudemire for his senseless behavior? Yes! Yet, should fans condemn Stoudemire for his lack of reasoning? No. It has been a very tough and emotional season for Stoudemire. The Knicks forward lost his older brother Hazell, who was killed in a car accident in February. Stoudemire also did not fully recover from back problems this season, which made it excruciating for him to perform at his desired level.
Then after that gutsy performance in Game 4, playing at his best injured, the Knicks and their fans know that they have a gladiator in Stoudemire.
The Knicks set the NBA Playoff record by losing 13 straight playoff games after Game 3. But the orange-and-blue fought back against James, Wade, Bosh and company in Game 4, to win their first playoff game since April 29, 2001.