Knicks’ Season Ends in a Game 5 Rout by the Heat

Stoudemire’s playoff exit came early — the result of a sixth foul — but his star teammates soon followed Wednesday night when another postseason ended in despair. The Knicks were never as good as their hype, and never a match for the , who closed out the first-round series in five games, with a 106-94 victory at American Airlines Arena.

Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony been partners for two playoff runs. Both have ended in the first round, with one victory to show for it.

“Next year, we’ll be better,” Anthony vowed. “We’ll be much better as a unit. Not just me and Amar’e, but as a team, as a group, we’ll be much better.”

The Heat, seeking their second straight trip to the finals, will play the Indiana Pacers in the second round.

In uniting Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler, the Knicks were attempting to match the Heat’s , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But this series exposed the folly of that vision. Miami was more talented, more polished, more mature and more unified in its purpose.

The Heat kept the ball moving, kept the Knicks on their heels and never relented. The Knicks responded with solo efforts and contested desperation shots. Chandler, who helped the Dallas Mavericks beat Miami for the title last June, was the most reflective in defeat, citing the Knicks’ failures to work together.

“We have to elevate our teammates,” he said. “I think we have to do a better job of getting everybody involved, getting everybody playing at a high level and get everybody focused on what we’re trying to accomplish.”

He added, tellingly, “When you play as individuals you don’t get very far.”

Chandler said he was not necessarily referring to this series, but it fit the description. The Knicks averaged an anemic 12.6 assists per game, to Miami’s 19. They shot .417 from the field, to the Heat’s .456.

And the offense was dominated by two players: Anthony and J. R. Smith combined to take 200 of the Knicks’ 367 shots, and both shot poorly. Anthony converted 41.9 percent of his attempts, and Smith 31.6 percent, often short-circuiting the offense.

“I think I did a poor job with my shot selection,” said Smith, who was 3 for 15 in the finale. “Melo did what he could.”

Anthony followed his 41-point Game 4 with a 35-point effort in Game 5, but the Heat defense — led by James and Shane Battier — kept him bottled up and frustrated for most of the series.

Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra called Anthony “as prolific a scorer as there is,” saying, “he deserves the respect we gave him, which was the whole kitchen sink.”

James (29 points), Wade (19) and Bosh (19) took turns converting spectacular dunks, and Miami repeatedly took advantage in transition, scoring 20 points on the fast break.

Anthony tried to rally the Knicks with 11 points in the fourth quarter, but the Knicks never got the deficit into single digits. Miami held a double-digit edge for the final 16 minutes and led by as many as 19 points.

Thus ended a wild, stressful, often-dizzying, frequently tumultuous post-lockout season in which the Knicks seemed to change identities every two weeks, and changed coaches along the way.

“We played a great team,” said Coach Mike Woodson, who led the Knicks to a late resurgence after replacing Mike D’Antoni. “Our guys got a short taste of what playoff basketball is about.”

The franchise will now turn its attention to retaining Woodson. Discussions on a new contract are already under way.

Although their stars are locked up, the Knicks face decisions on several key rotation players. Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields will be restricted free agents. Smith is expected to opt out of his contract. Steve Novak, Jared Jeffries, Baron Davis and Mike Bibby are unrestricted free agents.

The Knicks’ 89-87 victory in Game 4 ended an 11-year playoff drought, but they are still seeking their first series victory since 2000. After two postseasons together, Anthony and Stoudemire are 1-8, doing nothing to quell concerns that they are a poor fit.

Stoudemire said all the Knicks need is stability, in the lineup and in the coach’s chair.

“We haven’t had no consistency the past two years,” he said, referring to frequent roster overhauls. “I’ve been on maybe three to four different teams since I’ve been here.”

Asked if he and Anthony can succeed together, Stoudemire said: “There’s no doubt. I think it will work. Just have to see what Coach Woodson’s going to do to make it work.”

Stoudemire, again playing with heavy padding on his stitched-up left hand, battled foul trouble and finished with just 14 points. He picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter, with the Knicks trailing by 10. By the time he returned, the deficit had grown to 17.

The Knicks’ demise seemed inevitable, and only slightly overdue. They went 0-3 to start the series, a deficit no N.B.A. team has ever overcome. They are the 101st team to fail.

By tip-off, the Knicks were down to their third-string point guard (Bibby) and a bench with few useful bodies. Novak, their 3-point ace, was thoroughly shut down by the Heat.

The Knicks were also undermined by a string of misfortune: the April surgery on Lin’s knee, the illness that drained Chandler before Game 1, the devastating knee injuries to Iman Shumpert and Davis and Stoudemire’s glass-shattering, hand-slicing moment of madness after Game 2.

Stoudemire averaged 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in the series, but it will be his smashing of a glass fire-extinguisher cover — which caused him to miss Game 3 — that will forever mark this postseason.

As Stoudemire walked to the bench after fouling out, the public-address announcer sent him off with a gleeful final insult: “He has been extinguished from the game.”

Clippers Halt Talks for Chris Paul

In the four days since Commissioner vetoed a three-way deal that would have sent Paul to the from the , there have been two sets of talks. They have involved 4 teams, at least 11 players, and the vice presidents Stu Jackson and Joel Litvin, who are essentially acting as general managers for the Hornets, a team owned by the league.

The outcome: No deals yet. Paul remains in the Hornets’ training camp.

That leaves Stern, in a dual role as commissioner and de facto New Orleans owner, obliged to keep his staff — now effectively the Hornets’ staff — looking for a deal as Paul’s free-agent clock ticks.

The unusual situation started when the league took over the Hornets last December, buying out the distressed owner George Shinn.

At the time, Phil Jackson, then the coach of the Lakers, and a longtime critic of the league office, raised the issue, noting Paul’s impending free agency.

“When Chris says he has to be traded, how’s that going to go?” Jackson asked. “Someone’s going to have to make a very nonjudgmental decision that’s not going to irritate anyone else in the league.”

The league took over effective control in these new talks, and Hornets General Manager Dell Demps, who made the doomed deal with the Lakers, has been reduced to passing proposals back and forth between the Clippers and N.B.A. officials.

The Clippers were ready to give up their star guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman and Minnesota’s unprotected No. 1 pick in the June draft.

But at the end of negotiations between the Clippers and the N.B.A. officials, it seemed the Clippers would also have to give up two more young players, Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu. To the league’s surprise, Los Angeles would not part with Bledsoe.

Instead, the Clippers claimed the former Knick Chauncey Billups off waivers, perhaps in anticipation of ultimately trading a point guard or two.

Adding to the whirlwind of nonactivity, the , who have said they would take offers accommodating Dwight Howard’s demand to be traded, went back to saying they will do all they can to keep him.

“We have to continue to do what’s right for this organization to win a championship, and the first piece of that is keeping Dwight,” the Magic chief executive, Alex Martins, said at the team’s practice site in Orlando.

“And we’re doing everything we can to ensure that we do that. Our fans need to make sure that we show him the love.”

Howard went back to his “I love Orlando” mantra, however qualified.

“I love this city and there’s no place I’d rather be than Orlando,” he said. “I just want to make sure that we have the right things here so we can win a championship. And I’m all about change. If you’re willing to change and willing do what it takes to win, then you’ve got me.

“You only get one time around the track. There’s no reset button. You don’t want to miss out on any opportunity to win. You’ve got to do what it takes to win.”

Howard and Paul have spurned extension offers, alerting the Hornets and the Magic to the risk of being left with nothing if they let their stars walk away next summer.

Paul has given the Hornets three teams he is willing to go to.

¶ The , his original favorite, no longer have the maximum slot they were expecting to have last season, when Paul joked about forming a new big three with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, in a toast at Anthony’s wedding.

¶ The Lakers, Paul’s second choice, made an offer, but were shot down by Stern on Thursday. They tried to rework the three-team deal with the Hornets and the Rockets, but suddenly dropped out. Talks between the Lakers and the Magic were brief and came to nothing.

¶ And the Clippers, No. 3 on Paul’s list, had their deal fall through Monday.

Everyone can start over from the beginning on Tuesday.

Howard Beck contributed reporting.

Knicks Have Options at Point Guard With Bibby on Board

in a sign-and-trade deal with the Dallas Mavericks, pulled on a white jersey and worked with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony for the first time, pledging afterward that the Knicks would be much tougher defensively.

“If the effort is there, everything will come after it,” Chandler said with a smile. “We’re going to learn and figure it out, but the effort is already there.”

The most interesting and intense matchup Sunday was between Toney Douglas, who essentially became the starting point guard when the Knicks waived Chauncey Billups to create salary-cap room for Chandler, and Mike Bibby, a 33-year-old point guard who says he simply hopes to fit in.

, signed Sunday with the Knicks, his fourth team in the last year. Bibby has 407 playoff assists (or 398 more than Douglas) and was acquired by Miami late last season to nudge the Heat through the playoffs.

“We still think he’s got some gas left in his tank,” Coach said. “Obviously, he’s a very smart, good-shooting point guard, and there are not many guys who can come off the bench and give us help. He’ll know his role, and he’s looking forward to it. Then we’ll see what happens.”

Although the Knicks have time to make more moves, D’Antoni sounds as if he intends to see what Douglas can do. Bibby is, for now, an insurance policy, as well as a tutor to Douglas and Iman Shumpert, the Knicks’ first-round draft choice. Team officials say they are interested in bringing back Jamal Crawford, but payroll constraints make a reunion unlikely. Crawford, who has played for Atlanta for two seasons, is seeking more than $5 million per year, but the Knicks have only a $2.5 million cap exception, which is limited to two years.

A sign-and-trade deal for Crawford is also problematic, because the Hawks do not want to take back salary and the Knicks have few pieces they can trade. Team officials insist they will not trade Douglas to get Crawford.

Shumpert signed Sunday, as did the rookie center Josh Harrellson, acquired from New Orleans. Terms were not disclosed. The Knicks also re-signed Jared Jeffries, the 6-foot-11-inch reserve forward who is in his second stint with the team.

Bibby’s playoff run in Miami did not go well. He started all 20 of the Heat’s playoff games but averaged only 3.6 points and 1.1 assists in 20.8 minutes as Miami lost in the N.B.A. finals to Chandler and the Mavericks.

Between postpractice shooting sessions, Bibby said he had nothing to prove: “Ever since I came in, people have doubted me. I’m going on my 14th year, and I don’t care what you guys say, and I don’t care what anybody says about me. I’ve always been like that.”

He added: “I’m going to go out and do whatever it takes to help the team win. If they ask me to stand on the sideline and cheer, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m here to win. I’m going to play the role they want me to play.”

D’Antoni made a point of saying that the Knicks would not have waived Billups, enabling them to pick up Chandler, if D’Antoni did not have confidence that Douglas would be able to jump in as a starter.

Douglas has experience as a starter, having replaced in the playoffs last season. D’Antoni also said, again, that Anthony would be counted on to distribute the ball more in the Knicks’ pick-and-roll sets.

“My teammates, they have my back, and that’s all I need,” Douglas said. “Myself, I have confidence.”

When told that there was a perception that the Knicks did not exactly have a point guard now that Billups was gone, Douglas replied: “That’s people’s opinion. Everybody’s going to have an opinion, that’s how I see it. I don’t listen to none of that. I just come in and work out every morning for practice, and I get better.”

A minute later, he said: “We’re going to have a fun year off the court. I can already see the bond, even though we got two new guys coming in. Our goal is not just to make the playoffs. Our goal is a championship. That’s what we’re looking for.”

D’Antoni said the Knicks still had a lot to work on before they open the regular season Dec. 25 against the Celtics — and for that matter, they have a lot to work on before they play their first exhibition game Saturday against the Nets. But they are stocked and determined.

“They know what’s at stake,” D’Antoni said, “and I don’t think they want to see an opportunity slip by without giving it their best.”