Knicks coach Woodson says Amar’e Stoudemire ‘absolutely’ will play in the second round if he’s ready

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Despite Sunday’s result, the Knicks are well on their way to the second round of the playoffs. They have a 3-1 series lead on a Celtics team that struggles mightily to score in even moderate amounts.

New York could advance Wednesday when they return home to Madison Square Garden.

While the Knicks have had a relatively easy time of it against the depleted Celtics, things will get more difficult against more legitimate teams like the Pacers or the Heat in the later rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

It makes sense, then, that the team’s head coach Mike Woodson wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to reinsert one of his capable star players into the lineup just as soon as he’s healthy enough to contribute.

From Al Innazzone of Newsday:

Amar’e Stoudemire, who had knee surgery March 11, said he could be ready in the second round. If he is, Mike Woodson said he “absolutely” will play. Woodson said he’s not worried about a disruption of the chemistry the Knicks have built in winning 19 of 21. “Not at all,” he said. “You guys worry about that. I don’t. I really don’t. He’s a big piece to our puzzle.”

Stoudemire was said to be out up to eight weeks at the time of the surgery, so if he sticks close to that timetable, that would have him back closer to the end of a second round series than the beginning.

But whenever he is ready, New York could certainly use the frontcourt depth.

The Knicks have been forced to go small due to the constraints of the roster, and only Kenyon Martin has been a legitimate big man option for New York off the bench. Stoudemire’s return would help immensely, especially in the next round against the Pacers or the Hawks, both of which feature two skilled big men in their respective starting lineups.

Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points and five rebounds, while playing 23.5 minutes per game in 29 appearances for the Knicks this season.

James Johnson decimates Marcus Morris with huge one-handed dunk (VIDEO)

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Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.

The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.

With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.

This is what happened next:

Morris was whistled for a foul on the play.

Watch Hassan Whiteside beat the Pistons at the buzzer with tip-in (VIDEO)

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The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.

The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.

That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.

Via Twitter:

Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.

Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:

Kobe Bryant says LeBron James has earned the right to take a rest (VIDEO)

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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.

Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.

Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”

Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.

Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.

“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.

The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.

Phil Jackson’s reaction to Kristaps Porzingis getting turned upside down feels about right

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New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise, so any time he’s upended and nearly lands on his noggin it’s a cause for concern. To say the least.

That’s what happened on Monday night, as Porzingis got turned upside down during a play near the basket during a game against the Detroit Pistons.

Porzingis was OK on the play, and Detroit big man Andre Drummond did his best to help catch him so nothing too scary happened.

Still, Knicks president Phil Jackson had a pretty hilarious reaction to the whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when you watch your basketball life flash before your eyes.

Porzingis was unhurt and played a full 37 minutes. New York beat Detroit, 109-95.