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This may just be another year where the Knicks build their fans up just to lose the championship.

Because despite losing their first two games in the series against Boston and two of their stars being injured, they’re still keeping hope alive hard.

After Melo nearly beat the Celtics by himself Tuesday night, the Knicks received encouraging news Wednesday when an MRI of Amar’e Stoudemire’s back failed to reveal any structural damage. The Knicks, who are calling the injury a pulled muscle, expect their All-Star power forward to be available for the franchise’s first home postseason game in seven years Friday night.

Stoudemire left the team’s Game 2 loss in Boston late in the second quarter and did not return. The Knicks were also without Chauncey Billups, who is listed as questionable for Game 3 with a strained tendon in his left knee. The Daily News has learned that Billups had fluid drained from his knee Wednesday and was given a cortisone shot.

With the Knicks in danger of falling behind 0-3 in the best-of-seven first-round series, Mike D’Antoni needs all hands on deck, but the most plausible scenario is that Stoudemire will play and Billups won’t be available.

“Having guys injured, two of our biggest guys, we miss them a lot,” Anthony said following his epic 42-point Game 2 performance.

The Knicks were one shot away from winning both games in Boston but instead didn’t execute on either end of the floor against the more experienced Celtics. Tuesday’s 96-93 loss was particularly disheartening because the Knicks fought valiantly once Stoudemire went down and came back despite trailing by 11 in the third quarter.

Sounds like the team publicist was on a helluva damage control mission yesterday.



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