By Kenneth Teape
After two injury-plagued campaigns, Amar’e Stoudemire was a bright spot for the Knicks this season. STAT demonstrated his team-first attitude all year, doing whatever was asked of him to try and get the Knicks back on track.
Alas, the Knicks did not qualify for the postseason, but Stoudemire impressed with his ability to stay on the court and contribute to the team’s success in the second half. Below, we count down his top five games of the year.
March 2nd vs. Chicago Bulls
With the Knicks in the midst of what would end up being a seven-game losing streak, things were beginning to look bleak. The chances of a playoff push looked slim, but no one told Stoudemire that.
The big man took his game to another level down the stretch run, and it started against the Bulls; Stoudemire went for 14 points against the Bulls before fouling out in 23 minutes. It was a loss for the Knicks by the score of 109-90, but it was an important game for Stoudemire, who joined the starting lineup for the remainder of the season along with J.R. Smith.
It started a 20-game streak in which he scored in double-figures that would last until the second-to-last game of the year. This was the game that turned the season around for Stoudemire.
March 8th vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Knicks were in the middle of their longest winning streak of the season. Stoudemire was on a roll. In the 107-97 victory over the Cavaliers, he put together arguably his best statistical game of the season: he finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in 28 minutes.
The four assists were a season high for Stoudemire, as were the three blocks. This was one of the many strong games that Stoudemire put together from March through the end of the season; it also coincides with when he was inserted into the starting lineup.
December 28th vs. Toronto Raptors
With Carmelo Anthony missing his third straight game, the Knicks were desperate for someone to step up and carry the scoring load. That person was Stoudemire, who turned back the clock and looked like the MVP candidate Knicks fans had seen in previous years.
On the second night of a back-to-back, the coaches weren’t even sure Stoudemire would be able to play in this game, but he suited up knowing the team needed him. In 30 minutes, he delivered a spirited effort, scoring 23 points, grabbing nine rebounds, blocking three shots and handing out an assist.
March 30th vs. Golden State Warriors
In the midst of a rough west coast trip, the Knicks were a team desperate for a win at Oracle Arena, one of the league’s most challenging places to win.
With every game a virtual must win for the Knicks, they put together an outstanding team effort to take down the Warriors. Right in the thick of things once again was Stoudemire. Going against an undersized Warriors team that was without David Lee and Andrew Bogut, Stoudemire dominated the paint, grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds. Six of those rebounds were of the offensive variety, as he helped keep possessions alive and give the Knicks the ability to control the tempo.
He also added 15 points in what was a surprisingly low-scoring game, as the Knicks slowed down the tempo and held the Warriors’ offense to 52 points the final three quarters en route to a 89-84 victory.
April 11th vs. Toronto Raptors
The Knicks were fighting for their playoff lives and it was all hands on deck against the division-leading Raptors.
In the most important game of the season, Stoudemire put together a monster game, scoring a season-high 24 points on 10-of-14 from the field and 4-of-6 from the foul line. He also added 11 rebounds and one block, as the Raptors just had no answer for him on the interior. Perhaps most impressively, Stoudemire logged 40 minutes in the win.
With Anthony’s ailing shoulder affecting the All-Star, Stoudemire gave the Knicks an outstanding effort to get them a much needed victory to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The 40 minutes were by far a season high for Stoudemire, a number he hadn’t reached since January 21st, 2012 in a double-overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets.
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