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Billups injures left knee

Knicks guard unsure about Game 2 status

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / April 18, 2011

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His news conference finished, Chauncey Billups walked off the stage with a strained left knee, an injury that left his gait uncertain — as well as his status for tomorrow night’s Game 2 against the Celtics.

It had to be a frightening sight for the Knicks, a team that had just finished demonstrating it can hang with the Celtics on the road, a team that needs its point guard, whom Celtics coach Doc Rivers lauded in recent days.

“I went to the basket, and as I took off on my leg it just kind of buckled on me,’’ Billups said following the Knicks’ 87-85 loss in Game 1. “The doctors and everybody said it’s just a strain in my knee or the quad. Hopefully that’s it. We’ll check it out tomorrow, and hopefully I can be back as soon as possible.’’

There wasn’t a lot of information about the injury, which occurred with a little less than a minute remaining and the game tied at 82. It was clear, though, that Billups was in pain. Carmelo Anthony saw Billups limping in the locker room, and asked him about it. He was reassured, to an extent.

“He said he was cool,’’ Anthony said. “I’m going to go with that.’’

When asked about his availability, Billups said, “I really don’t have a clue. I’m in a lot of pain right now. That’s to be expected. We have a couple days, I’ll just be treating it as long as I can. If I can get out there and help any, I’ll get out there. We’ll just have to see.’’

Said Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, “I don’t know. I know he’s hurting right now and we’ll find out tomorrow, I guess. I don’t think it’s anything more than it’s going to hurt. If it hurts too much he can’t play, and if it doesn’t he’ll be ready to go.’’

If Billups is unable to play tomorrow, it would be a serious blow to the Knicks’ chances. Billups played 35 minutes last night, scoring 10 points and dishing out four assists. Not his best performance, but he wasn’t on the court in the final seconds, replaced by Jared Jeffries.

And though Billups hadn’t experienced a similar injury, he had been prepared for the possibility. He wore a brace, though it didn’t prevent the knee from buckling.

“[I] actually did this on a smaller scale in the Chicago game, the second-to-last game of the season,’’ Billups said. “I kind of banged it in that game, and that little spot had given me a little bit of a problem. That’s why I was wearing a little brace, in case I got hit again. This time wasn’t even a hit. I just kind of took off and it just kind of gave out on me.’’

Now the Knicks must wait to see if their 34-year-old point guard will be available for Game 2.

“I hope he’s OK,’’ said Toney Douglas, who put the Knicks ahead, 85-82, on a 3-pointer shortly after Billups exited. “We’re going to need him. But if he’s out, we’ve just got to keep going with our game plan.’’

Still, they remain confident in his ability to return.

“It’s playoffs, though,’’ Anthony said, “I’m pretty sure he’ll be ready [for Game 2].’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmalieBenjamin.

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