Up-and-down year ends with dud for Amar'e Stoudemire

Amar'e Stoudemire sits on the bench against the

Amar'e Stoudemire sits on the bench against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. (May 9, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

MIAMI -- Amar'e Stoudemire sat at his locker holding his head in his hands, with the left one still stitched up after his encounter with a fire extinguisher case here last week.

Finally, he lifted himself to peruse the final statistics from Game 5 -- the last game -- of the Knicks' Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the Heat Wednesday night.

Stoudemire could not have liked what he saw: 14 points, four rebounds, five turnovers and six personal fouls in 31 minutes and 41 seconds, a dreary finish to a mostly dreary second season with the team.

Afterward, he was asked to look back at that season and began with the worst of it, the death in February of his brother Hazell in a car accident.

"It was an up-and-down year for me," he said after the Knicks' 106-94 loss. "It started off with my brother's death, so that was hard to get over. I'm still trying to get over that now. And a few injuries throughout the year.

"The lockout wasn't great for me, either, because coming off the back injury and not being able to get the proper treatment was not good."

Stoudemire made a dramatic return in Game 4 Sunday, playing with his left hand heavily wrapped and partnering with Carmelo Anthony to lift the Knicks to their first playoff victory in 11 years.

But Game 5 was a dud. He was called for his third foul with 8:59 left in the third quarter, then his fourth with 7:24 left then, shockingly, his fifth with 6:41 still on the clock.

"I was just trying to be aggressive and play basketball without worrying about fouls," Stoudemire said. But he also conceded he was not aware he had four fouls when he committed the fifth.

Stoudemire returned with 9:51 left in the fourth, then fouled out on an offensive foul with 4:48 left.

The public address announcer punctuated the sixth foul by saying Stoudemire had been "extinguished" from the game. Stoudemire laughed when told about that later and said he didn't mind.

Asked if he had a problem with the foul calls, he said only, "That's OK. Nothing to worry about."

Among the Knicks' biggest worries for next season is the ability of Stoudemire and Anthony to co-exist.

"There's no doubt I think it will work," Stoudemire said. "We just have to see what coach [Mike] Woodson is going to do to make it work."

Most importantly, Stoudemire said, the team has to establish a plan and stick to it.

"We have to come in next year with a consistent year, implement our strategies from training camp and get better throughout the year," he said. "We haven't had any consistency the past two years. We had a team change last season, and this season we had a coaching change. It was a tale of two seasons.

"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. Whatever we do this summer we want to make sure we have a solid group going into training camp and we all understand who we are and get better from there."

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