Knicks Find Amar’e, Defensive Mojo


VIDEO: Stoudemire leads Knicks past Sixers

By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com

The situation looked dire for the New York Knicks at the end of 2013.

Sitting at 9-21, the Knicks trailed the Toronto Raptors by five games for the lead of the weak Atlantic Division. Carmelo Anthony pointed to the team’s lack of effort as the biggest cause for concern after a December 28 loss to the Raptors.

“We’re a little bit inconsistent as a whole, as a unit, as a group. The effort is definitely not there some days or it’s there and then sometimes it’s not,” Anthony said. “We play with effort in spurts. We’ve got to get some consistency from that standpoint.”

For Anthony, a free agent this summer, he never imagined the Knicks (who won 54 games last season) would be in this position.

“This is not how I envisioned it, this is not how we envisioned it coming into this season,” said Anthony. “But it is what it is at this point. We can’t be crying about it. We’ve got to find a solution to it, got to take it one game at a time and figure it out.”

Six games into 2014, it seems the Knicks have figured it out.

They’ve won five of their last six games, including impressive victories over the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. The biggest difference has been the team’s renewed focus on defense. After holding their opponents under 95 points just 10 times over their first 30 games, the Knicks have held opponents under 95 in four straight games. This defense should improve even more upon the return of defensive anchor Tyson Chandler, who has been out the past three games with an upper-respiratory illness.

Even better news than the defense for the Knicks is the improved play of Amar’e Stoudemire, who is averaging 10 points in 23 minutes over his last five games. He scored 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting in the Knicks win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

“He’s getting his power back and he’s getting his confidence back,” Anthony said after the game. “I think when he plays like that and we start believing in him a little bit more, he’s only going to get better.”

Throughout these wins, however, there’s still been controversy. The league’s $50,000 fine of J.R. Smith for untying players shoes led to a benching by head coach Mike Woodson. Thankfully for Knicks’ fans, Smith seems to have learned his lesson after he returned last night to score an energetic 11 points off the bench.

“Be serious, be a professional and don’t take this opportunity for granted,” Smith said on the lesson he learned. “There’s a lot of people in the world who want our jobs and we can’t take it for granted. It can be taken away just that fast.”

New York will continue to be challenged in the coming weeks as they play four games in five nights, including matchups with the Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers.

The season started off incredibly rough for the Knicks. But it seems things are finally coming together and their season can still be salvaged in a weak Eastern Conference.

26 Comments

  1. Richard says:

    Defense is what wins. During the Knicks Glory years, despite all of the offensive talent the Knicks won with the BEST DEFENSE IN THE NBA. I recently read a coaching book by the great Morgan Wooten. in it he has a great sign that says “THERE IS NO GLORY IN DEFENSE……….ONLY VICTORY” VERY TRUE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Teddie V says:

    Amare to be sixth man

  3. Low Key says:

    Congrats on the recovery and resurgence STAT! J.R. hopefully learned something, great player, just needs to take open shots, not force them in double coverage

  4. JAY says:

    Hope MELO stays.

  5. go2themike says:

    It’s certainly nice to see Stat playing better. However he still needs to improve his defense. Defensively he is still a liability and that is why many times he may have to be taken off the floor late in the 4th quarter. If Stat can improve defensively and the Knicks can remain healthy they can play with any team in the league and are real contenders.

  6. matt says:

    I’ve been saying all along if the Knicks play defense they are a tough out for anyone. On top of that, they are slowly getting healthy at the right time. Felton seems to be getting healthy and is making big plays. Besides the flu, chandler is getting healthy again. Stat is playing at a high level again. Pablo should be back in a week. I don’t know, we will see. I do know that when they are healthy and moving the ball and playing defense and creating turnovers, they are contenders. The way they have played over the past 2 weeks they look like contenders.

    • K Jo says:

      What team isn’t a contender if they would move the ball around play stay healthy play defense and cause turnovers? Who do they have to score the ball besides Melo? Amare has a few good games and now people are pretending like they had hope for him all along? JR gets 11 points in a game and suddenly he has turned things around? We’ll see what all of you Knick fans have to say when they begin to slide again. It’ll likely be nothing.

  7. adc says:

    Amare needs to goddamn shave n get a haircut

  8. pacquiaoverated says:

    Knicks is still the joke of NBA standings tells the truth with the ultimate jokester in tow together with the Brooklyn nets they are the laughing stock of the NBA overrated before the season started, unlike the Pacers

  9. lol says:

    all they have to do is get 30 wins until the end of the season, a 30-52 record should be enough to get them into the playoffs rofl…east is such a joke overpaid fail teams like nets, knicks etc make u wonder

  10. okc2014 says:

    It’s good to see the Knicks finally figure it all out. And yes, I hope it continues too. It just makes for more interesting basketball. Certainly don’t think JR Smith has learned any lesson- but Go Knicks.

  11. rushtyPH says:

    STAT must be in the starter instead of Bargnani.

  12. 3tothedome says:

    IT’S ABOUT TIME, AMARE MELO TAKE US TO CONFERENCE CHAMPION!

  13. Chris says:

    Amar’e was carrying the team before Melo got there, and playing at an MVP type level. There’s no doubt he’s got what it takes to be a great player for the Knicks

  14. Mark says:

    Amare Stoudamire is a beast! Way better than barnani in my opinion. He is strong, athletic, and has great offensive and defensive awareness. Go Mari

  15. Kamil says:

    Now if only the Knicks could somehow put more games together… we may be able to make the playoffs.

    I don’t know if we can compete farther than the first round but it would be worth watching.

  16. Chuck says:

    Bring it on now fake”Knicks” fans who want to throw Amare to the garbage,,,

    • Desmond Anderson says:

      I agree and as a long time Knicks Fanatic .I kinda noticed Hardaway’s dunk against the Heat seemed to exclaim what great confidence this team is playing with right now…Go Knickerbockers

  17. LAKERSLAKERSLAKERS says:

    Melo is still gone in free agency

  18. Toofer says:

    Hipster Amare!!!

  19. Patty says:

    THE MEDIA WANTED TO BRING CONFUSION TO Amar’e AND ANTHONY.

  20. Patty says:

    I HAVE ALWAYS SAID TO BE PATIENT WITH Amar’e.

    Amar’e IS A GREAT PLAYER.

  21. kto182 says:

    go knicks they look better than others team…go knicks….

  22. dustydreamnz says:

    Knicks and Nets looking much better, be interesting to see if it continues.

  23. Eaham says:

    Good to see STAT getting playing time. He carried the Knicks on his back for an entire season before carmelo came, so he has the talent, just keep him healthy and let the man play 30 minutes a game !

    • Simba says:

      STAT didn’t carry the Knicks for the entire season. It was 54 games and NY was only 28-26 at the time. As a Knicks fan it’s really good to see him getting his legs under him after being devastated by all those knee injuries.