Amare Stoudemire draped a towel over his left hand as he walked into the privacy of the New York Knicks' training room an hour after the game, needing a sanctuary from prying eyes.
The specifics of what Stoudemire did immediately after Game 2 were unclear. Only this was certain: His hand was cut so severely that doctors and paramedics were summoned, drops of blood stained the carpet, a piece of glass in the door to a fire-extinguisher case needed to be replaced, and a bad night for the Knicks on the court got much worse when Stoudemire walked off it.
Stoudemire's availability — and New York's hopes — for the rest of this Eastern Conference first-round series against the Miami Heat look bleak at best, first because the Knicks were beaten 104-94 on Monday night to fall into a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven matchup, then because of whatever emotions boiled over near the locker room afterward.
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"I am so mad at myself right now, I want to apologize to the fans and my team, not proud of my actions, headed home for a new start," Stoudemire wrote on Twitter about two hours after the game.
Game 3 is Thursday. Before the Knicks left the arena for the flight to New York, a team official said the extent of the injury is unknown. But in the locker room, Knicks center Tyson Chandler said he did not expect Stoudemire to be able to play when the series returns to Madison Square Garden.
"I'm not going to comment until I see or hear what's going on with it," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
Moments later, Woodson said he had seen the cut, then stopped short of saying anything else about what took place. "I'm not going to go there," Woodson said.
So on their trip to Miami, the Knicks lost two games and two starters. Guard Iman Shumpert was lost for 6 to 8 months after tearing a knee ligament in Game 1, a freak play after a misstep. Stoudemire now appears gone as well, because of a mistake.
"You never want to hear anyone gets hurt," said Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat with 25 points. "Hopefully he gets better. We want all their guns on the court."
Chris Bosh added 21 points and LeBron James finished with 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Heat, but their night was completely overshadowed by whatever went on with Stoudemire in the hallway that's just a few steps from the edge of the court.
"I really don't know what's the situation with that," said Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who said he was "on the court" when whatever happened with Stoudemire occurred.
Everything the Heat did seemed like old news quickly after the game, when all anyone really wanted to talk about was what was going on in the Knicks locker room. Miami-Dade paramedics — who staff every game — were summoned while reporters were kept outside much longer than the typical 10-minute cooling-off period.
"We're all frustrated," Chandler said.
Stoudemire declined to say anything when he walked out of the shower area in the locker room, one towel around his waist, another shielding his left hand.
Almost forgotten: Miami had just sent New York to its NBA-record-tying 12th straight postseason loss.
"This is a series," Chandler said. "We've got to go home win the next two and turn it into a best-of-three after that."
Anthony scored 30 points on 12-for-26 shooting for New York, which got 18 points from Stoudemire and 13 apiece from Chandler and J.R. Smith. The only other team to lose 12 straight playoff games is the Memphis Grizzlies, who dropped their first dozen postseason contests from 2004 through 2006.
New York's last postseason win came April 29, 2001.
Mario Chalmers scored 13 points and Mike Miller and Shane Battier each shot 3 for 5 from 3-point range on their way to 11-point games for the defending East champion Heat, who shot 52 percent.
"Every game we try to find our shooters, get them comfortable in the offense and once they catch them, they can let it fly," James said. "It was concerted effort tonight to get them the ball and move the ball from one side to the other."
Baron Davis, who sat most of the first half and has been battling back issues, finished with 12 points for the Knicks.
The Heat came into the game saying they expected Anthony to be much more aggressive. They were right.
Anthony opened with an 11-shot quarter — the last time someone took more in the first 12 minutes of a playoff game was May 15, 2006, when Richard Hamilton got 12 shots off for Detroit against Cleveland. Anthony missed all seven of the jumpers he took in Game 1 when guarded by James, then got his first one to fall on the game's first possession Monday.
By halftime, Anthony was up to 21 points on 9-for-18 shooting, the Knicks needing all that and more. Wade, James and Bosh combined for 41 points in the first two quarters, helping Miami take a 53-47 lead.
Unlike Game 1, it wasn't over by halftime. And play was heated, just not overheated.
Well, until postgame, anyway.
For nearly three quarters, whenever Miami was on the cusp of pulling away, New York had answers.
Consecutive baskets by James midway through the third quarter, the second of those good enough for him to merit it worthy of a chest-bump and long look at the Knicks bench, put Miami up 67-56 — then its biggest lead. Four minutes later, the Knicks were within four, a dunk by Chandler making it 72-68 with 1:37 left in the period.
Miami's margin was back to nine after a flurry ended the third. James drove right and got just about every Knick to shift with him, leaving Battier all alone for a 3-pointer, and James' three-point play as the shot clock was running down had him laughing and the Heat up 78-69 going into the fourth.
The Knicks never got any closer, and the Heat wound up holding serve at home.
"We did what we're supposed to do," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's not anything more than that. We're already trying to leave this game behind."
By then, word was just seeping out of what happened in the Knicks locker room.
"Amare is a huge piece of this team," Chandler said. "And, you know, without him, it's going to make it more difficult."
Notes: Knicks G Mike Bibby came out of one of his shoes during play early in the second quarter, then was miffed after Wade picked up the sneaker and tossed it out of his reach as New York took the ball into the offensive end. "I don't think many people have done that before," Wade said. ... Heat F Udonis Haslem bought tickets for relatives of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26. ... Shumpert watched from the locker room. ... It's the first time the Heat have held a 2-0 series lead over the Knicks. All four previous matchups were split after the opening two games.