Back spasms bench Stoudemire for 2nd half

Amare Stoudemire expects to be ready for the New York Knicks’

next playoff game after back spasms sidelined him for the entire

second half of their 96-93 loss on Tuesday night that gave the

Boston Celtics a 2-0 lead.

”I should be ready for Game 3,” he said after the game,

standing instead of sitting behind the podium at his postgame news

conference. ”We’ll see how it goes (Wednesday) and next day, but

I’m pretty sure – I’m hoping – I’ll be ready Friday.”

Stoudemire said he believed he hurt himself during pregame

warmups.

”I couldn’t hardly move. I was trying to play through it,” he

said. ”Once I felt that sharp pain, I couldn’t take it.”

Game 3 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round

series is set for Friday night in New York.

”He should be OK Friday. … He just felt a little twinge,”

coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Stoudemire finished with four points and five rebounds in 17

minutes, 39 seconds. In the opener, he had 28 points and 11

rebounds but the Knicks lost 87-85.

The Knicks already were without Chauncey Billups, who missed

Tuesday’s game with a strained left knee suffered in the final

minute of the opener.

Shawne Williams started in Stoudemire’s place in the second

half. The Knicks led 51-49 before Boston scored the next seven

points, capped by a 3-pointer by Paul Pierce. The Knicks, trailing

56-51, then called timeout with 6:55 left in the third quarter and

Stoudemire stayed on the bench when play resumed.

Boston led 74-63 before Carmelo Anthony scored the last four

points of the third quarter, cutting the lead to 74-67.