GREENBURGH, NY — The New York Knicks played pretty well without Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire in the second half of Tuesday’s Game 2 in Boston. And the numbers show that the Knicks have played much better when they’ve had just one of their stars on the court than when they’ve had two or three.
But, of course, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni would prefer that Stoudemire and/or Billups are healthy for Friday’s Game 3 at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).
The Knicks practiced without Stoudemire or Billups on Thursday. Billups received treatment on his strained left knee at the Knicks’ practice facility, but Stoudemire was getting treatment at his home in Manhattan, so that he didn’t have to travel an hour each way in the car and possibly aggravate the pulled muscle in his back.
D’Antoni is clearly more optimistic about the chances that Stoudemire will play Friday, but the team will have to wait until at least Friday morning to see how Stoudemire feels.
Billups had blood drained from his knee and took a cortisone shot on Wednesday.
“At this point, I know there’s no way I can come back and be 100 percent,” Billups said. “But I don’t have to be 100 to come back. I just want to be able to help the team and not hurt the team. If I can get to that point, then I’ll be out there.”
No matter what players he has on the floor Friday, the second half of Tuesday’s game in Boston gives D’Antoni’s confidence a boost.
“The way we played the second half in the second game without [Billups and Stoudemire], we’re confident that we can still get the job done,” D’Antoni said. “We’re definitely not having our heads down or whatever. We think we can it done no matter what. It would be great if those guys can participate. If not, we’ve got to win anyway.”
The Knicks’ injuries don’t end with Stoudemire and Billups. D’Antoni revealed Thursday that Ronny Turiaf was bothered by knee soreness in Game 2, complaining of pain before the fourth quarter on Tuesday.
“In my mind, at that point, he was done for the day,” D’Antoni said, explaining why, if he was going to replace Jared Jeffries on the Knicks’ final offensive possession, he would have had to go to Shelden Williams, who hadn’t yet played in the series.
Turiaf is still expected to start Game 3, however. If neither Billups nor Stoudemire can play, D’Antoni will start the same lineup that started the second half on Tuesday: Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Anthony, Shawne Williams and Turiaf. That lineup played just five minutes together in Game 2 and has played just eight minutes together overall.
In Celtics’ injury news, Shaquille O’Neal will be making the trip to New York for Games 3 and 4. That’s no guarantee that he’ll play, but it means that he’s closer to returning to action.