The road back from injury is a long one, and becoming a bench player for the time being has to be an ego bruiser, but Amare Stoudemire is making it work, leading the New York Knicks to a fourth consecutive win with what was simply a perfect performance off the bench.
What do you call 21 points in 21 minutes, 10-10 from the field, going along with 6 rebounds, not to mention the +31 on his stat line during his moments on the floor? Perfect, or pretty much close to that.
The Knicks actually trailed by 10 when Stoudemire entered in the first quarter, opening with a 3-13 against the Sacramento Kings, shooting 1-13, but Stoudemire’s entrance to the game, followed by quick five points after the Kings got an 18-6 lead, changed everything. The Knicks went on a 38-4 run, including 19-4 to close the quarter and 19-0 to open the third. The only question left in the game after that was by how much the Knicks would win, aiming to break the franchise record of 48 points, instead settling for a 120-81 win. The Knicks led by as much as 50 at some point.
The Knicks took 43 shots from beyond the arc, as J.R. Smith enjoyed the freedom and the garbage time, making 7-14 from three, scoring 25 points on a weird game that had about 30 minutes of basektball that meant nothing but determine the size of the margin. Maybe the weirdest thing? Carmelo Anthony, the man in charge for the shooting problems early in the game, was hardly involved.
Anthony scored only 9 points on a 4-12 shooting night, instead preferring to pass the ball on during his possessions later in the game, finishing with 5 assists as well. Tyson Chandler enjoyed the Kings’ non-existence when it came to the rebounding game, grabbing 20 to go along with his 11 points, including 8 offensive rebounds. The Knicks won the rebounding battle 53-30, making 54.7% of their field goal attempts.
The Knicks are now trying out their new three guard opening lineup, which means the returning Raymond Felton, on his fifth game since coming back from his injury, played alongside Iman Shumpert and Jason Kidd. That meant awful shooting early on, but when the Knicks got going thanks to Anthony, it looked pretty good, especially during Shumpert’s and Felton’s minutes.
The Sacramento Kings had one of the team’s most embarrassing nights in a season filled with losses that are about quitting and no energy. The Kings’ head coach, Keith Smart, didn’t feel like there was anything wrong with the Knicks not really letting go till the end of the game.
Sometimes guys that don’t get the opportunity to play, they get on the floor, they’re going to play. You can’t tell them to run the shot clock down and feel sorry for that team over there. These are pros.
Running up the score is always a debate in American sports, but the Knicks have a pretty good bench that even playing all-reserves means they have a quite serious team out there. Maybe some feel that winning by 45 points means you tried to humiliate your opponent, but what it actually means is that your players gave it their best till the very last minute, not letting a sure thing ruin their game.