Stoudemire Returns, But Can’t Help Knicks Where They Need It Most

NEW YORK — Late in the third quarter on Tuesday, Amar’e Stoudemire caught a pass from J.R. Smith on the baseline, rose and posterized the Blazers’ Victor Claver.

It was the kind of highlight Knicks fans have been anticipating for two months. And the night was a huge step forward for Stoudemire, who received a huge ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd when he entered the game with 3:31 to go in the first period.

“I almost shed a tear when I walked out on the court with the standing ovation,” Stoudemire said afterward. “It was a phenomenal feeling. It was great to see the fans were patient for me.”

They’re going to have to be a little more patient. About 10 seconds after Stoudemire’s third-quarter dunk, Nicolas Batum ran a pick-and-roll with Jared Jeffries, and when Jeffries rolled and caught Batum’s pass on the left block, Stoudemire was standing at the opposite elbow. By the time he rotated over, Jeffries was laying the ball in the basket.

It was the kind of defensive breakdown Knicks fans have been fearing for two months. And it wasn’t the only one Stoudemire had in his 2012-13 debut.

Early in the second quarter, Stoudemire stood frozen at the foul line as J.J. Hickson strolled behind him for an alley-oop dunk. Midway through the third, Stoudemire got faked out by LaMarcus Aldridge, ran away from the man with the ball, and opened a huge lane for Aldridge to get to the basket.

Stoudemire shot just 3-for-8 on Tuesday and grabbed just one rebound in 17 minutes. But missed shots are nothing to worry about. And we obviously can’t expect Stoudemire to be sharp on either end of the floor in his first non-preseason game in almost eight months. But defensive breakdowns are common with the Knicks’ highest-paid player whether he’s healthy or not.

More important, defensive breakdowns have been too common with the Knicks for over a month now.

Every time Knicks coach Mike Woodson was asked something about his team’s offense after Tuesday’s 105-100 loss, he made it clear that offense wasn’t the issue. While 105 points may not seem like a major defensive debacle, this was a slow-paced game, with the Blazers tallying just 90 possessions. And the defense was just as bad with Stoudemire on the bench (68 points allowed on 59 possessions) as it was with him on the floor (37 on 31).

“Forget the offense,” Woodson said. “We scored enough points. Defensively, we’re just not where we were early in the year, and we’ve got to get back to that.”

Getting back to the way the Knicks defended in the first few weeks of the season (they ranked fourth defensively through Nov. 20) or the way they defended last season (they ranked fifth in 2011-12) will be more difficult with Stoudemire now in the mix. He’s a notoriously bad defender and he’s not at 100 percent.

But Woodson seems determined to make Stoudemire his project for the next few months. After each defensive breakdown on Tuesday, the coach called Stoudemire over to tell him where he went wrong.

“I expected that was going to happen,” Woodson said of Stoudemire’s defensive miscues. “So I’ve got to help him. I’ve got to let him know. We’ll show him on film tomorrow, and hopefully he’ll learn from it. And we’ll build on it day by day.”

Determining whether Stoudemire can co-exist offensively with Anthony and/or Tyson Chandler can wait for another day and more data. Even with a rusty Stoudemire, the Knicks were plenty good enough on that end of the floor against the Blazers. And even though Jason Kidd cooled off and Anthony missed six games, they still had the No. 8 offense in December. But they’ve lost five of their last eight games because they can’t get stops consistently.

“We’re really getting away from our principles right now and second-guessing ourselves,” Chandler said. “We’ve just got to get back to sticking with what we’ve had success with.”


John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.


  1. krizzia.asim says:

    I think knicks will become a much better team now. they only have to work some plays on melo and amare. melo can lure two defenders and it will leave amare open. defensively? eventually he will learn. did you forget that his with chandler. just relax. it`ll be new york and miami on east finals.

  2. Stat will cause a lot of problem on the post..
    Opening shooters from outside.. knicks dont have post presence right now..
    and you need it when playoffs began..
    We cant disagree he’s a great player way back then nash + marion + stat..
    and stat is still recovering from injury.. 🙂 I remember everyone gets excited when
    stat and melo arrived on NYK..

  3. Mr.Day says:

    TIME people! everyone is so quick to judge after one game give it time! it was obvious that tat was rusty but the way he looked in the second unit was deadly! noone needs to be traded, i agree the defense needs to pick up, but stat hasnt properly trained with the kncks in months and hes only played ONE high intensity game. TIME people, you’lll see. and stop with the whole lin lin lin hes gone and we dont need him! id take jason kidd and felton over lin anyday!

  4. joe16barca says:

    REALLY? kidd is great but felton hasn”t been living up to what the knicks expected, raymond can produce but hes injury prone and very inconsistant, i would have liked to see the backcourt of kidd and lin, with the guidence of kidd lin would be playing much better. So far lins been good for the rockets.The knicks need to fix something!

  5. Eliejb says:

    Felton and Steve Nash are probably the only 2 players that know how to play with Amari best

  6. Eliejb says:

    People are forgetting what Felton and Stoudemire can do. He was a little rusty then he started getting into his role. Pick in roll with him in Melo or priglioni and him or when felton comes back hes always going to have some one on the court who can set him up as you even saw with J.R smith

  7. Sheesh says:

    Give amare’ some slack, its his first game back. Y’all know when he is 100% he can still block around 2 shot a game, be an intimidating force in the paint. and theres no question about he’s offense. Give him time to get re aquainted with the game and the team’s system. Write this article again if he plays bad defense after 2 months or so.. Too soon to judge the guy.

    For those who want him traded im sure some of y’all are the same persons that was happy when the knicks got him a few season ago.

    Stop hatin’

  8. Ellis Wyms says:

    Playing defense in the NBA is about understanding concepts, communication and effort. The coach is responsible for teaching and mastering the concepts. The players are responsible the the commutation, effort and accountability on and off the court. The Knicks defensive chemistry has got to improve and I think that can happen once they get healthy enough for everyone to get on the same page. This is still a work in progress. Hopefully they settle on the right recipe by playoff time.

  9. Gabriel says:

    “Consistently inconsistent” is a contradiction of terms: a logical fallacy.

  10. sissy123 says:

    Sriiouussllly. i cant believe someone would actuaally waste their time to write about a player who just returned from injuries and played only 16 min.comme on. ammaree needs timme. how manny moths did it take dwayne wade to be back in shape after his surgery?it took him nearly 3 months….waht can you expect rom a guy who hasnt played for for nearly 4 months =_= cut the guy some slack. mello isnt too wow on the defense either.

  11. a says:

    should trade him. Anybody willing to give up anything should recieve the bid

  12. Samuel says:

    Makes absolutely no sense to write about a man who hasn’t played in over 8 months. None. You’re grasping at straws dude.

  13. Lia Baker says:

    Don’t worry, Amare will get his feel for the game again and the D will be amazing again very soon. New York Knicks: 2013 Champions! Carmelo Anthony MVP.

  14. Adam says:

    One of the most overrated and definitely the most overpaid player in the league…has no defence, even ofensively isn’t that good, especially considering you have anthony on the roster – the knicks dont need him…

  15. Ivan says:

    Also, Amare never learned about defense with Phoenix. That’s why he stinks at defense for the most part.

  16. Ivan says:

    Have been Carmelo and Amare co-existed poorly? yes they have. But you have to take into consideration D’Antoni was the coach and didnt teach defense. And on top of that they had no quality PG to compliment both of them and D’Antoni’s system needed a PG. Now the Knicks have 2 good PGs and a coach thats a fanatic about defense. Carmelo and Amare will definitely do better. They’re miscues are really not their fault.

  17. Roy says:

    Trade him for some role players or a better 6th man. Amare is a bad for this team. They are worse on defence AND offence when he is playing. Please I don’t want our chances of winning the title tainted by some washed up scrub.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I KNEW some guy looking to make noise on would write an article on this. This is his season debut. He is not even close to 100%. And the only reason New York’s defense has slipped was because of all the injuries throwing off each player’s roles in the Knicks’ defensive sets. Rashed Wallace’s injury was the turning point. Don’t believe me? Watch the games before and after Rasheed and Camby left with their injuries.

  19. Jacques Durceille says:

    Either Melo or Amare needs to be traded. They cannot be on the same team. When one is out with an injury the team does great, but when both are together they are terrible.

    Amare is a has been who thinks he can still be a first option. Guy doesn’t even play defense. This team will choke in the playoffs just like the clippers. Time will not solve this. Prepare for a shake up in the east. The knicks will slide down to 5th or 6th place as it is their nature to be bad defenders and selfish shot makers. Smell ya later

  20. AH20 says:

    Cut the guy some slack… How long has he been out? Geez… and Lin was a fluke…. Give me Kidd and Felton any day….

  21. Victor Hugo says:

    Patience yall!!It’s never easy to play well after coming back from an injury.let’s hope Amare don’t have the same season he had last year

  22. Knicks says:

    The 2 reasons stoudemire came of the bench and was given less minutes were 1 he did not play for a while so he wasn’t basketball fit and 2. was because he did not know the defensive sets so you can hate but in the end he can only help the knicks.

  23. MsKnick says:

    One game in and already talking about his defense. Yeah–he’s always had issues, we know that. But, can he at least get a few games in before we go all in about how Stat is such a liability on that end? As a team, we still need to do better defensively. Our rebounding has been horrible all year. And who knows–maybe Woodson can work a miracle lol. We’ve had a great start—we were going to come back down to reality eventually. Now is a good time for us to try and get it right.

  24. BID says:

    it’s easier for amare to average 10 rebounds per game than becoming a good defender and in 10 years in the league hasn’t done none of those so what makes think than all of a sudden after injuries, age and zero attitude to defend or board he is going to perform in this 2 areas

    • Dommy says:

      Mike Woodson is one of the best defensive coaches ive ever seen, if anyone can help Stat its him

  25. Sicka10 says:

    i don’t think there is ground for criticism. Stat was just rusty, he hasn’t played a long time and he is a little out of pace. he’ll improve in time. felton’s injury is a problem, had he played, knicks would have won, since nor Pablo nor Jason had a night to remember

  26. Kwolio says:

    “Return to Dominance.” Pfft. I’m a die-hard Suns fan (d/t Nash), but Amare needs feeds from PG’s to do his work. You don’t deserve fully to be a dominant force if you won’t simply invest on defense, and some other concerns as well. Melo I can say is a few miles ahead of you on both ends of the floor.

  27. Peejay says:

    MJ,Larry,Magic and even Kobe if you think of them definitely they are all time legends scorers but it seems people notice that they are all underrated defenders. So it proves that if they want a bunch of championships they really must have balance offense-defense principle so definitely amare,carmelo must learn that if they knicks owns a championship rings.

  28. slider821 says:

    Did any of you guys read the article? Offense was not the issue and the Knicks were just as bad defensively with Stat on as they were with him off the court. It’s overall team defense and it starts will Melo. I’m not seeing the defensive tenacity from Melo that we saw early in the season. He needs to rally his team’s D and the offense will click with or without Stat.

  29. Chester says:

    stoudemire has to stay in the 2nd unit as the center, only position he has ever played well in, and defence is acceptable somewhat in. melo has been tearing it up as a small power forward just as lebron has.
    but i think chris copeland needs more minutes as a wing scorer off the bench, or even start him. not getting much from ronnie brewer. feltons injury is really pushing kidd to play more than he should have to at his age. prigioni is solid but anymore than 15 minutes is too much. dont know when wallace gets back, the knicks need him

  30. Florida says:

    I have been saying this for a months that Stoudemire return will damage NY.

  31. NYFan says:

    let’s just hope that he ready at the playoffs. thanks

  32. cpcheung says:

    Without Jeremy Lin, Novak is useless, Tyson is useless, and even Stoudemire is also useless. Big scores from Melo and JR cannot do it. Knicks needs someone like Jeremy Lin who can better utilize the entire team. Kidd played 32.57 minutes and got 0 point and Prigioni played 22.20 minutes and got 2 points only. Are there enough proofs that Knicks cannot do it without Jeremy Lin ?

    • Fan says:

      You forgot Raymond Felton plays for the Knicks? You are no basketball fan. Just a bandwagon JEREMY LIN fan. Tyson does fine and people actually read the scouting report on Novak. Who wants to leave a 45% 3 point shooter open? Stoudemire just came back from knee surgery. The only proof I got is that you’re a fake basketball fan.

  33. cpcheung says:

    Without Jeremy Lin from last season, Knicks has no offense, nor defense. Knick’s magic runs out on one-man show. Novak is useless without Jeremy Lin. Tyson Chandler is useless without Jeremy Lin. And therefore, same uselessness with Stoudemire ! Big scores from Melo and J R cannot do it alone! Knicks needs Jeremy Lin to utilize the entire team ! Kidd played 32.57 minutes and got 0 point and Prigioni played 22.2 minutes and only got 2 points. Are there enough proofs for the important role of Jeremy Lin in the past and present with knicks ?

    • Crazygirl992 says:

      2 words: Raymond Felton

    • Kael says:

      who is Jeremy Lin?

    • @slobrono1 says:

      ths is one game. clearly you haven’t seen the other games of kidd and felton

    • QuestionMark says:

      Ever hear of a future Hall Of Famer named Jason Kidd?

    • HA ha ha says:

      Jeremy who? his memory is blurred at best. Kidd and Felton has done a way better job than he did. Lin had more turnovers than
      what the entire knicks team is averaging right now.

    • Ken says:

      Are u kidding me???? I’ll have Felton night in/night out….

    • NYKFan33 says:

      Are you seriously comparing Jeremy Lin to Jason Kidd and/or Felton? Cheung you must be a huge Lin fan (wonder why). Lin was a great boost when the knicks needed it but he was hyped ALOT because he played for a wonderfully diverse crowd in MSG (see what i did there). All jokes aside, you’re taking stats from one bad game and comparing it to Lin’s best stats of his entire career. C’mon son! Get real!

  34. lol says:

    god to have you back amare now the knicks can srsly think ina good playoff run, IF the team stays healthy

  35. sholmes87 says:

    Amar’e hasn’t learned to play defense after ten years in the league. What makes Woodson think he can ‘teach’ him in a few months?

    • dattebayo says:

      How many seasons has Amar’e played for D’Antoni? Do you think he ever taught defense?

    • Costa says:

      Until now,no1 cared about him not playing defense.But things change.You are not going to get a championship without defense.

      • Diogo says:

        Neither Dirk is a great defender…He is worst than Amare. Amare can make some blocks, Dirk not even that and is taller, boot have kidd on the point/shotting, and defensive presence on chandler. So the point is they aren’t the best defense but they have pieces to get the ring…
        They show that can win the miami heat some games. they have lost with teams like the bulls who defend very well, but is a question of make a balance of offense and defense.
        They wave now to think in the teams they will match in the playoffs!

  36. sholmes87 says:

    Amar’e hasn’t learned to play defense after ten years in the league. What makes Woodson think he can ‘teach’ him now?

    • bigwes95 says:

      Carmelo wasn’t much of a defender for nine years, and woodson made him better. so what would be different for Amare?

    • HA ha ha says:

      Lets not forget that D’antoni is who stat played for most his career he didn’t have to play defense.. Woodson will get him playing right. I like what i see

      • PC says:

        Well way back then when STAT was younger, he had his legs under him. He may not have been a good defender back then, but he could rotate on the pick and roll defense well enough for the PHX Suns to get to the Western Finals a few times. Now he’s def a step slower due to his knee issues. He just may not be the defender he once was. The Suns used their high power offense to make up for their lackluster defense. But the Knicks does not have as high a power offense attack as the back-then Suns. So they’ll need defense to solve their issues. STATS is only 30. That’s still young enough for someone to learn defense. I’m sure STAT can pick up the slack and regain closer to his old form.

        Bottom line, as long as he gets to score, he’ll defend. If he don’t get the ball, he’ll slack off defensively.

      • Marco says:

        If his knee problems make him slower, then he has to play smarter. Don’t know if has a defensive awerness, if not then Woodson has to make him play smart D.

  37. Even though he didn’t play too well I really like the way he looked in the pick n roll with Prigioni and think he will get a lot of confidence playing in that second unit. Than we can hopefully see him transition into the starting unit and co exist nicely with Melo.

  38. kumag says:

    now there’s the old knicks with Stoudemire in it, goodluck knicks youre gonna need it….