Amare Stoudemire in for Game 3
NEW YORK -- New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups missed the Knicks' 113-96 Game 3 loss to the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. With the Knicks trailing Boston 3-0, Billups is likely done for the series.
Power forward Amare Stoudemire started Friday night, playing through a pulled muscle in his back. He finished with seven points on 2-of-8 shooting and pulled down three rebounds in 32 minutes. Stoudemire believes that his back muscle will continue to hinder him in Game 4.
"There is no way I will be 100 percent by Sunday," Stoudemire said after the game.
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Stoudemire injured his back on a dunk attempt during warm-ups prior to Game 2. He sat out of the second half of Game 2 with back spasms and was in so much pain that he had to stand during his postgame news conference. He also needed a team trainer to help him put on his socks and shoes after the game.
An MRI on Wednesday revealed that Stoudemire had a pulled back muscle. He sat out of practice Thursday, staying home in Manhattan to receive treatment on the injury.
He worked out in the pool at the Knicks' practice facility Friday morning and had to make it through a workout an hour before tipoff to be cleared to take the court.
"It's tough," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "The guy has been on a bed for two days and I just marvel at [the fact that] he gets out and he wanted to play. He was upset. His heart is in a great place. He gave us everything he got. His body is a little bit dead, but I expect him to be ready on Sunday."
D'Antoni was unsure of Billups' status for Game 4.
Billups strained his left knee late in the fourth quarter of the Knicks' Game 1 loss.
He missed Game 2 and underwent an MRI on Wednesday that revealed the strain. He also had fluid drained and received a cortisone shot.
Toney Douglas started in place of Billups on Friday and scored 15 points.
"This is the time of season that I live for so it's really tough," Billups said before tipoff Friday.
Billups said he had trouble jumping and pushing off of his left knee while testing it Friday morning.
He did not rule out the possibility that he could miss the rest of the first-round series.
"I think it's maybe a chance but I don't know that to be 100 percent sure and true," Billups said. "But I can just kind of go day to day and see how it goes. Hopefully ... I can make a jump here soon. But that's me, I'm just praying for a miracle, you know?"
The Knicks are also hoping for a miracle. No NBA team has rebounded from a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series.
"It's tough knowing that Amare's not 100 percent, Chauncey's not 100 percent and we're just trying to find our way on the fly right now," said Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting. "That's a tough situation but I think that would be making excuses if I sit here and say that they beat us because we're not at full strength. We've still got guys that have to go out there and play and that is going out there and playing, so I don't want to use that as an excuse."
Ian Begley is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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