Stoudemire had surgery Wednesday to repair a muscle in his left hand and the Knicks had listed him as doubtful for Sunday, but he was back on the court during practice Friday and cleared to play in Game 4.
He was back in his usual spot as the last player introduced during starting lineups, getting a loud reception, and he quickly picked the Knicks up after their sluggish start.
"He's a good player. He's a great player honestly, and he gave them the spark that they needed," James said.
The Heat jumped to an 8-1 lead, holding the Knicks without a basket for almost four minutes to start the game. Then Stoudemire had three baskets in a 12-2 spurt to give the Knicks the lead, and they were up 20-18 after one following two free throws by Anthony with 7.3 seconds left.
The game then turned into a foul-fest, with 23 called in the second period. The Heat shot 19 free throws, making 14, while the Knicks were 8 of 9. Stoudemire and Chandler both went to the bench with their third fouls, but the Heat failed to pull away even after forcing the Knicks to miss their first six shots of the period while opening a 10-point lead.
Both teams shot 33 percent in the quarter, played at a glacial pace while the teams paraded to the free-throw line. Miami led 44-38 at halftime.
Miami led 51-40 before the Knicks' offense finally got going. Stoudemire made a jumper and converted a three-point play, Anthony made a layup, and Smith stole the ball and made a 3-pointer for a quick 10-0 run.
James missed and the ball was batted up ahead to Davis, who drove in with a chance to give the Knicks the lead. But his leg buckled near the foul line and he crumbled to the court, called for a travel. Concerned teammates quickly waved for help, and Davis was wheeled off the court.
But New York regrouped and surged into the lead, going up by six late in the period before taking a 64-61 advantage to the fourth. After making only 13 baskets in the first half, the Knicks shot 10 of 20 in the third, getting 11 points from Anthony.
NOTES: Heat reserve C Eddy Curry (flu) was not with Miami for the game. ... There was a musical tribute during a second-quarter timeout for Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who died Friday of cancer.
PBT: Lance Stephenson led Indiana with 25 points in a win that eliminated his hometown team. Stephenson and the Pacers will face the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Grizzlies ready for 'running' Spurs
DPS: Lionel Hollins tells us how he plans to play against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.
Latest from ProBasketballTalk
Nate Robinson unlikely to return to Bulls next season9 hr 34 min ago
Get your NBA cheer on
Check out some of the dancers from the NBA.