- Last Updated: 8:35 AM, May 10, 2012
- Posted: 3:38 AM, May 10, 2012
MIAMI — A sticker of the NBA championship trophy hung above the Knicks’ lockers at the Garden late in the season as a reminder of their goal.
The Knicks’ season ended last night 15 victories short of that goal as the franchise will go without a championship for a 39th straight season. A tumultuous season highlighted by Linsanity ended in a humdrum whipping by the better team.
There wasn’t much evidence the Knicks are on a fast track to a future title Wednesday night as the Miami Dream Team outclassed them again, 106-94, at the AmericanAirlines Arena to win the series 4-1.
The Knicks’ Big 3 just isn’t up to Miami’s Big 3 — not now, maybe not in the next three years. In leading a sickly offense, Carmelo Anthony had his good and bad moments in finishing with 35 points on 15-of-31 shooting, and he exits the playoffs in the first round for the eighth time in nine seasons.
It was telling the postgame demeanors of Chandler, coming off a title with the Mavericks last season, and Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, who now have lost two straight first-round series and are a combined 1-8 in the process. Anthony, in particular, felt everything will be fine as is. Chandler had a different slant.
“I’m personally very disappointed. It’s unacceptable to me,’’ Chandler said. “I didn’t come here to lose in the first round, and I don’t plan on doing this in the future. I’ll do everything I can to make this team better in the future.’’
It was the fifth straight postseason series the Knicks have lost. Chandler talked about a lack of leadership.
“Each individual, myself, Amar’e, Carmelo, we have to come back better as better leaders next year,’’ Chandler said. “We have to elevate our teammates. We have to do a better job of getting everybody involved. It can’t be individuals. Because when you play as individuals, you don’t get very far.’’
If he was angry at the end result, Anthony didn’t show it as he talked of a glossy future, clinging to their raft of injuries all season and in the series.
“I feel confident in the team and where we’re headed despite everything that happened this season,’’ Anthony said. “It’s been an up and down season. We competed. In the future, I feel good competing against the top teams in the East. I do consider our team being up there, top three, four teams in the East.’’
“Next year we’ll be much better as a unit,’’ Anthony said. “Not just me and Amar’e but as a team.’’
This wasn’t Super Melo Wednesday night, but he also didn’t have a super sidekick. Stoudemire appeared hampered by his left hand, covered in a black bandage. He fouled out with 4:48 left — a charging foul. It was a fitting conclusion to his disappointing second season in New York. Stoudemire finished with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and had just four rebounds. Often, he grabbed at his bandaged hand, looking in pain.
Unfortunately, Stoudemire this season will be remembered for a fire extinguisher instead of firing up New York as he did in his first year.
Asked if there is accomplishment, Stoudemire said, “The only thing we accomplished is breaking the record of getting a win in the playoffs. We’re looking for better things than that.’’
Chandler, who helped the Mavericks beat Miami for the championship last June, largely was invisible on the offensive end and had just seven points.
LeBron James (29), Dwyane Wade (19) and Chris Bosh (19) were good enough, combining for 67 points as the Heat face Indiana in Round 2 Sunday. Anthony and James, who didn’t speak during the series, hugged for several seconds at the final buzzer.
“I am so happy for our ballclub,’’ interim coach Mike Woodson said. “They fought all year to get to this point. [But] I don’t want them to be satisfied because the ultimate goal is to win an NBA title.’’
It has been four years since former president Donnie Walsh started the rebuilding and made his first salary-cap clearing move, dismantling a 6-5 club in November 2008. That cap plan has not netted the kind of success hoped for — one playoff win.
Woodson is expected to return, but the Knicks’ future is murky. Despite the team’s injuries in this series, the Knicks’ Big 3 doesn’t seem up to Miami’s trio and will struggle this summer to patch up the bench that could have significant losses.
Can Anthony-Stoudemire-Chandler be the core of a title contender? Nobody knows.
“We’re just going to see what Coach Woodson is going to do to make it work,’’ Stoudemire said.
The Knicks needed big games from reserves J.R. Smith and Steve Novak and didn’t get it. Smith, 8-of-33 in the two Garden games, shot 3-of-15. Novak didn’t take a shot in 13 minutes. Novak and Smith both could be free agents and flee. Landry Fields is also a free agent but likely to re-sign.