Heat eliminates Knicks in Game 5

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, second from right,

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, second from right, and forward LeBron James, right, embrace as Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire walks off the court. (May 9, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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MIAMI -- The Knicks' season started with former coach Mike D'Antoni saying they should compete for a championship this year, and it ended with another bitter first-round defeat.

The Knicks couldn't handle LeBron James, the Heat's defense, energy and desire in this best-of-seven series. Despite another big game by Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks lost Game 5 Wednesday night, 106-94.

"It's definitely disappointing to lose," Tyson Chandler said. "I personally am very disappointed. Last year winning a championship [with the Mavericks] to getting knocked out in the first round, it's unacceptable to me.

"I didn't come here to lose in the first round. I don't plan on doing this in the future.''

After losing the first three games, the Knicks pulled out a two-point win Sunday at the Garden, ending an NBA-record 13-game playoff losing streak.

But they didn't play with nearly the same passion or effectiveness in Game 5. They trailed by double digits for most of the second half -- 19 in the fourth -- and extended two bigger streaks. The Knicks haven't won a playoff series since 2000 and an NBA title since 1973.

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"We have to continue to change the culture and make a push at it," Chandler said.

Anthony scored a game-high 35 points. Amar'e Stoudemire fouled out with 14 points and four rebounds. James had his usual brilliant all-around game, going for 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Wade and Chris Bosh each scored 19.

Now another offseason filled with questions begins early. The Knicks need to upgrade their backcourt and figure out whether Anthony and Stoudemire can succeed together the way James and Wade have.

At least the coaching situation should be settled soon. Woodson is expected back and could sign his new contract in the coming days. He has said it's up to him to make it work with Anthony and Stoudemire. They are 1-8 in the playoffs together.

"We haven't had any consistency the past two years," Stoudemire said. "We had a team change last season, and this season we had a coaching change.

"I've been on maybe three or four different teams since I've been here, and I've only been here two years. We just want consistency."

The Knicks ended the lockout-condensed regular season 36-30 and made the playoffs for the second straight season. They were never fully healthy in this series and lost their starting backcourt of Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis to nasty knee injuries.

But even if the Knicks had been intact, beating the defending Eastern Conference champions would have been difficult. "They're more polished than us right now," Chandler said.

Said Anthony: "Next year we'll be much better as a unit. Not just me and Amar'e, but as a team. We'll learn from this.''

The Knicks were down 81-67 to start the fourth, and the Heat led 94-75 with 6:37 left. Stoudemire fouled out with 4:48 left and the Knicks trailing 96-80, but they tried to make one last run. They cut it to 97-86 on a Landry Fields layup. On the ensuing trip, Bosh got free for a dunk with 2:53 left. The Knicks never drew closer than 11.

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"What we did this year wasn't enough," Chandler said. "We still have to get better, each individual, myself, Amar'e, Carmelo. We have to come back as better leaders and the entire team has to take a step forward.

"We have to elevate our teammates. I think we have to do a better job of getting everybody involved, playing at a high level and focused on what we're trying to accomplish."

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