The losses are starting to pile up for the New York Knickerbockers, and each one is starting to hurt more than the last. The Knicks lost their third consecutive game in a 94-90 defeat to the Portland Trailblazers to drop their record to 19-30 on the season. They are now 2.5 games behind for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and 7 games behind the Raptors for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
The season is now 60 percent done, and time is starting to run out on Coach Mike Woodson and the rest of the team. Things were looking up for the team following Carmelo Anthony's historic 62 point night as they won four consecutive games, but have gone streaking again toward the other yet again. If there is not a sense of "urgency" in that locker room right now, then the team may as well pack their bags for an early summer vacation.
"There should have been urgency for a long time now," said Amar'e Stoudemire. " Should have the urgency months ago so we could have gotten off to good start. We always have high expectations for ourselves, like winning the division. Once that started to slip away, urgency should have kicked in. Hopefully now, we get back into that winning mentally."
With Kenyon Martin out of the lineup because of a sore ankle, Stoudemire played very well off the bench in his absence. He scored 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting and added seven rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Stoudemire showed flashes of his old explosive self with some thunderous slam dunks.
The problem for Stoudemire is he still wants an increase in his minutes. He was the latest Knicks player to call out Mike Woodson prior to last night's game as he says his minutes are being decided by the coach himself and not the medical staff.
“From a doctor’s standpoint, there hasn’t been limitations since the first week of the season,” Stoudemire said at practice on Tuesday. “So we can’t keep saying limitations -- that’s a coach’s decision at the end of the day.
“I feel great,” he continued. “I am ready to play. But it’s up to him if he wants to play me or not.”
After missing seven games with an ankle injury, Stoudemire played four minutes and scored two points in a loss to Miami last Saturday. During Monday’s 101-98 loss in Milwaukee, Stoudemire played 17 minutes and scored seven points and four rebounds.
"I feel better than I did when I first got here," said Stoudemire after last night's game. " Feel just as strong. I feel great."
With the Knicks struggling to score points in the fourth quarter, Woodson decided to take Stoudemire out with 5:52 left in the fourth quarter for Tyson Chandler. The defense was not the issue for the Knicks last night as they defended well in the fourth quarter, limiting Portland to four field goals and forcing seven turnovers. But the Knicks shot 7-for-25 and got no fourth-quarter points from Anthony as they dropped to 11-17 at home. Anthony scored 26 points, but was 0-for-5 in the fourth.
"I played Amar'e long minutes in long stretches," said Woodson. "I wanted to get defensive down the stretch so I went with Chandler."
Stoudemire doesn't feel he needs to be on any kind of minutes restriction because he feels as healthy as he has been since his arrival to New York in the summer of 2010.
"I can play 30 minutes a night easily," said Stoudemire. " I am not going to keep harping on it. Most important things is I am healthy. Whatever happens., happens. I still got room to improve as a player. Become my dominant self again. I feel that I am that now. So when the opportunity presents itself, then I show you guys what I can do. I am going to continue to work and stay optimistic about things."