The hapless New York Knicks rolled into 2014 looking for something, anything positive to signal that the tides of their disappointing season were turning.
The signs of life came from the most unlikely of places. It turns out the six-time All Star with gimpy knees at the end of the bench had something left to give. Since the calendar turned to 2014, Amar’e Stoudemire, has averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes on 54% shooting off the bench.
It was vintage Amar’e on Saturday night in Philadelphia as he torched Spencer Hawes with a bevy of post moves, blow-by jams and even a putback dunk that put the Knick bench in a frenzy.
On Monday night against the Suns, Stoudemire contributed 9 points on just five shots to go along with seven rebounds in another New York victory.
“I’m not doing much different than I was doing last year,” Stoudemire said, and he’s right. We’ve seen stretches like this the last few years from Amar’e – most recently when he averaged 18 points per game on 16 of 19 shooting in a four-games in five-nights stretch last March. A familiar refrain followed: right knee swelling, debridement surgery, and no STAT for the rest of the regular season.
For their part, the Knicks seem to be treating Amar’e more conservatively this year. Stoudemire indicated he would not play on Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers as it would be a fourth game in five nights, and he’s passed the 30 minute mark just once this year. Perhaps that’s contributed to his already eclipsing last season’s 29 games played.
If the self-proclaimed “Renaissance Man” can continue his revival, and provide even a fraction of the game that attracted Carmelo Anthony in the first place, then maybe the Knicks’ season isn’t as dead as it seemed a few short days ago.