Knicks Follow Stoudemire To Another Win To Up Record to 13-9

Published on: 7th December, 2010

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Knicks Follow Stoudemire To Another Win To Up Record to 13-9  | read this item

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NEW YORK — New York Knickerbockers coach Mike D’Antoni knew what he was getting when the Knicks signed NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire to a free-agent contract this past off-season. After all, D’Antoni had coached the young man when both were with the Phoenix Suns, the franchise where the 6’10” center got his start in the NBA as a precocious, but spectacularly athletic high school graduate. Winning 50-60 games per season with the Suns gave D’Antoni some perspective on the player. It also gave Stoudemire some perspective about winning.

“I have been with him,” said D’Antoni. “His power, strength and now, his outside shooting….it just seems like it is easy for him right now. He has that ability to rise to the occasion and there’s no reason why he can’t continue this.”

D’Antoni was referring to another sterling effort from Stoudemire tonight in which he carried the Knicks from a lackluster first half performance where they gave up 68 points to the (5-16) lowly Timberwolves to a more efficient and winning formula in the second half. The Knicks, behind Stoudemire’s game-high 34 points on 15 of 23 shooting, outscored the T-Wolves 60-46 in the second half en route to a 121-114 win. It was the Knicks fifth straight victory as they achieved their high-water mark for the season, four games over .500 at 13-9. It is the first time they’ve been four games over .500 since finishing the 2000-01 season with a 48-34 record.

“This was the plan,” Stoudemire said. “The plan was to have success.”

Wilson Chandler added 21 points and Raymond Felton had 18 points and 11 assists for the Knicks but the clear reason for the Knicks sudden move from league also-ran to league hottest team has been Stoudemire, who has surpassed 30 in every game during the winning streak, the first Knicks player with five straight 30-point games since Stephon Marbury from Feb. 4-11, 2005.

“I don’t know if you can play any better than he has the last couple of weeks,” said D’Antoni, who also coached Stoudemire in Phoenix and said the All-Star is capable of extending his roll “close to 82 games.”

Kevin Love had 33 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who duplicated the sizzling start they had in a victory over Cleveland on Saturday but didn’t have the defense to make it stand up. Michael Beasley, who missed that victory with a sprained ankle, returned and scored 25.

Following a 3-8 start that seemed to indicate another long winter in New York, the Knicks have won five in a row for the second time this season. They will try for their first six-game winning streak since January 2006 when they host Toronto on Wednesday.

Luke Ridnour scored 16 for the Timberwolves, who got off to sensational start but fell apart in the second half. Already dealing with a number of injuries, they were hurt by the loss of former Knicks center Darko Milicic, who scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting in eight minutes before leaving with an injured right quadriceps.

“This was a competitive game throughout,” Love said. “It was fun to play in. It just wasn’t fun when the final buzzer went off.”

Trailing by seven in the third quarter, the Knicks came up with five steals during a 12-0 burst that gave them an 82-77 lead on Felton’s layup with 5:16 left in the period. After surrendering 68 points in the first half, the Knicks limited the Wolves to 18 on 6-for-17 shooting in the third, surging to a 92-86 lead entering the fourth.

“When we pick up the tempo on our defense, that’s when we’re really a good team,” Felton said. “So we’ve got to keep it going, just got to continue to get better, not be complacent and try to keep this thing rolling.”

Minnesota cut it to four a few times early in the final period, but Stoudemire answered each time with a bucket. He was averaging 29 during the previous 10 games, giving the Knicks everything they could have hoped since signing him from Phoenix this summer.

“They just had it going,” Beasley said. “They’re the hottest team in the league right now. Amare Stoudemire is the hottest player. When it counted, we couldn’t stop them.”

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