Will the New York Knicks succeed in their plans to go very far this season in the NBA playoffs without Carmelo Anthony? Despite several conspiracy theories, probably not. But for one game, having Amare Stoudemire feel like a star player again was enough to fill in for the fallen number one guy on the team.
Today I just woke up and you know how some days you really don’t feel right,” he said. “I came out here and I tried to warm up and I thought it was going to loosen up before the game, but some of the things that I was doing I felt like I was dragging it.
Carmelo Anthony lasted only 19 minutes in the game, leaving during the second quarter while the Knicks were trailing by 22 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers (52-30). From then on, the Knicks completely turned around the game, despite Anthony’s knee problems, that according to him, aren’t anything new. They eventually won 102-97, ending a 10-game losing streak in Cleveland.
I’ve been a competitor my whole career. I’ve had a lot of success in this league so far. I know how the game is played. Whenever my number’s called I’ll be ready and tonight I was ready.
There were a lot of questions regarding Mike Woodson benching Amare Stoudemire in the final 8 minutes of the loss to the Miami Heat, but according to Woodson, it’s all about favorable matchups, and Stoudemire’s number will be called upon when he feels he needs a power forward.
He certainly needed Amare’s scoring when Anthony went down, which makes for a completely different Knicks team – one that doesn’t have one player getting a touch on every offensive possession, and slightly, just slightly, changes the focus on looking for open 3’s all of the time. The Knicks still attempted 30 shots from beyond the arc, making 12 of them (40%). Amare, obviously, wasn’t part of that barrage.
He finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds as the Knicks were +13 during his time on the floor, going 10-15 from the field. It’s been a weird season for Stoudemire, missing nearly half of it because of an injury, calling for many to expect the Knicks to not know how to use him. They’re 15-12 since his return, with Stoudemire averaging 23 minutes a night and 13.9 points per game. He’d like to feel more important, but for now he’s in a limited role.
Someone who’s far from limited in his role, although it usually has more to do with defense and rebounding is Tyson Chandler, this time finishing with 8 points and 9 rebounds, as the entire Knicks starting lineup finished the game in single digits. Chandler did get the big defensive play of the game, as Kyrie Irving tried to beat Chandler on the dribble but couldn’t shake the center off, and when he rose for a potential game-tying three pointer got cleanly rejected by the big man, who has recorded a block or more in each of the last 10 games.
I knew they were going to him. I knew if I got switched on him I would force him to drive. He went for the 3-point shot and I kind of baited him into shooting where I could still get to the shot.