BY DR. ERIC KAPLAN, www.bucketsoverbroadway.com
New York Knicks’ forward Amar’e Stoudemire is a religious man, a spiritual man and a true gentleman. Now this man may have save coach Mike Woodson his job this holiday season.
With THE SEASON ON THE BRINK, Stoudemire’s shot with the game tied and two minutes to play against the Chicago Bulls may have saved Woodson for the time being.
Carmelo Anthony as I reported earlier has only been 1-for-16 on shots to tie or win the game. With every opponent collapsing on him and referees refusing to give him a call, the ends of game have been tough on Anthony.
With no real set plays to free Anthony, he methodically brings the ball up and tries to out muscle the opposition. Wednesday night began no differently.
With the Bulls controlling the fourth quarter, it became Anthony time . Anthony again struggled as games end as he missed 5-of-6 shots down the stretch and had a turnover. The Garden crowd groaned with each failed Knicks possession, and the Bulls tied the game at 74. A defeat after a 23-point lead surely would have lead to Woodson’s dismissal.
And then with the score tied, the Ghost Of Christmas Past, emerged in the form of Stoudemire.
Stoudemire reminded everyone he still has some mileage left in those surgically repaired knees. If Amare can provide the kind of lift he has offered the last three games by averaging over 15 per game, this will be the lift off the bench and give Anthony some timely support. In turn, the Knicks’ season may improve dramatically.
After all the Knicks are only one game in the loss column against the division-leading Boston Celtics and they have a rematch set for Friday after their 41-point embarrassing loss last week.
It was against these Celtics in this game out of desperation Woodson gave Amare a chance, he responded as the only bright spot with 17 points.
Woodson is stubborn and it again was Stoudemire and Beno Udrih, who worked the pick and roll that helped the Knicks build a good lead. However Woodson did what he always does, he brought back his starters that surrendered the lead, versus sticking with the players that got him the lead.
His mechanical way of coaching may have cost him the game and then it happened. Woodson was visited by the GHOST OF CHRISMAS PAST.
Woodson went back to the bench took out Andrea Bargnani and brought back Stoudemire. In just over a minute, Stoudemire made four critical plays that helped the Knicks pull out an 83-78 victory over the Bulls. He also helped harass the Bulls into another late turnover.
Stoudemire played 30 big minutes, playing in his second consecutive game, hitting 7 of 11 shots, scoring 14 points, grabbing nine rebounds, blocking one shot and coming up with two steals.While Anthony was being double and often triple teamed and struggling to score, Stoudemire provided him with the help he’s been looking for. He gave the Knicks another inside presence to go with Anthony. His jump shot and yes, defense, helped fuel this win. He looked more like the Amare of old and we have missed his personality as well as his talent.
Stoudemire surrendered his ego for Anthony. Before Anthony came to New York this was Amare’s town. He humbly took a step back from day one, he is a true team player.
Anthony showed his support to his friend last night when he said, “The last couple of nights, Amar’e’s been stepping up big time, giving us another option we can go to offensively,” “Defensively, he’s been stepping up, taking the challenge out there. And we’ve been having his back defensively. We just want him to continue getting better. We got to help him get better. We got to build together.”
Respected by his teammates he has proven to be a tireless worker, to prove to people and himself that he is not done, that he isn’t as close to retirement as many reporters may have thought, written.
Wednesday night Stoudemire saved the day and possibly Woodson’s holiday as well.