Knicks ready for challenge of Game 5 against Heat

Miam Heat's LeBron James feels Knicks' Carmelo Anthony's Miam Heat's LeBron James feels Knicks' Carmelo Anthony's hand in his face in the fourth quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series at Madison Square Garden. (May 6, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire played in Game 4 the way the Knicks envisioned when they assembled this duo, hoping they could challenge the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks' two stars did it for one game, totaling 61 points, to beat Miami Sunday. They likely will have to have big games together again Wednesday night, or another offseason of "Can Anthony and Stoudemire succeed together?" will begin earlier than the organization hoped.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat lead the best-of-seven first-round series 3-1. They can close it out in Game 5 unless the Knicks do something they haven't done in four tries this season: win in Miami.

"Our mind-set is survival," Anthony said. "Just going out there and trying to get another game."

"We've got to will our way to a win," Stoudemire said. "That's what it boils down to. We've got to show heart. We've got to show aggressiveness. We've got to have great focus. We've just got to get after it."

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The odds are stacked against the Knicks, whose four losses in Miami this season were by a total of 67 points. James and Co. won't want to return to the Garden for a Game 6 Friday and will play accordingly against the severely undermanned Knicks.

The Knicks are missing their starting backcourt after Iman Shumpert blew out his left knee in Game 1 and Baron Davis tore his ACL and MCL and partially tore the patella tendon in his right knee in Game 4. Jeremy Lin was ruled out for the series on Tuesday. That leaves Mike Bibby, 33, and a committee of Anthony, J.R. Smith and perhaps a dusted-off Toney Douglas to handle the point-guard responsibilities.

"If I can get 30, 40 minutes out of him, I'll play him 30 or 40," interim coach Mike Woodson said of Bibby. "I have to try to win one game and get back home."

If Bibby can turn back the clock, and Smith and Steve Novak can find their shooting touch Wednesday night, the Knicks could pull off the upset. But history also is against them. They are one of 102 NBA teams to drop the first three games of a best-ofseven. The other 101 were eliminated. According to Elias Sports Bureau, seven forced a Game 6 and only three pushed it to a Game 7.

"That's the exciting part for me," Anthony said. "History is definitely not on our side right now. But we believe and we're confident that we want to go down there and win this basketball game and bring it back here. If we get this one, who knows what will happen?"

It's been a tough series physically for the Knicks. Tyson Chandler wasn't himself in Games 1 and 2 because of the flu. Stoudemire missed Game 3 after injuring his left hand by punching a glass-enclosed fire extinguisher after Game 2 in Miami, and their backcourt is decimated.

But the Knicks aren't making any excuses now. They left for Miami confident that when they come home Thursday, they'll start preparing for Game 6.

"These guys are not ready to go home," Woodson said. "Everybody was predicting we'd lose Game 4. Now we still have our backs against the wall and we have to go to Miami in a hostile environment and win Game 5. That's just how it has to be.

"Our guys know what the challenge is that's out there, and I just hope they're ready to play. I think they'll be ready to play."

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