The former All-Star power forward was coming off a postseason where he was a non factor playing only eight minutes a game in three games against the Pacers. At the start of training camp, Stoudemire didn't sound very optimistic on playing any kind of meaningful minutes this season. It took about 60 games but Stoudemire has officially returned to his old dominant self.
Stoudemire was brilliant for the Knickerbockers scoring 23 points on 9/10 shooting to lead New York to it's fourth consecutive win. New York has been a completely different team since Coach Mike Woodson decided to insert Stoudemire and JR Smith into the starting lineup last Monday against the Pistons. New York has gone 4-1 since the new lineup, and are resembling a team that everyone thought would at least contend in the Eastern Conference.
"Amar'e has been playing unbelievably well," said Woodson. " He made plays inside and we were able to play off him some in the pick and roll. That allowed guys to get open for some open shots."
The team shot 54 percent from the field, and are now 12-1 this season when they shoot 50% or better. This was also the first time since April 12, 2012 that the Knickerbockers had four 20-point scorers in a game. Tim Hardaway J.R. led all scorers with 28 points, J.R. Smith had 22 and Carmelo Anthony added 20 points as the Knicks were able to overcome an early 12 point deficit against a Sixers team that has now lost 17 in a row.
"I love nights like this," Anthony said. "Four guys with 20-plus points. Sharing the ball. Making plays. Having fun out there. Taking the load off me. I love nights like that."
New York is still 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks are looking to become just the third team since 1984 to make the playoffs after facing a deficit of at least five games with fewer than 25 games to play.
"We still have a ways to go," said Stoudemire. "We are still chipping away. We just got to keep winning."
It's also worth noting that Stoudemire has played 30+ minutes in three of the games, which is quite a feat for a player who was on a minutes restriction earlier in the season. He has averaged 18 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in those five games.
"It feels great. I have been working very hard to get back to my normal self again," said Stoudemire. "My confidence is there. It really never left. It was just a matter of working hard and getting back to top shape."
The 49 games played this season for Stoudemire will be highest since the 78 games he played in his first season with the Knickerbockers. He had not started in any games in the last two seasons up until these last five. It is only then that Stoudemire has said where he can be the dominant player he knows he can be.
"Amare is playing some of his best basketball that I have seen him play in a while, " said New York point guard Raymond Felton. " He is been fighting through injuries. Its really good to see him healthy and play like the way we know he is capable of playing. He been posting up and playing pick and pop great. What people are not seeing is he is playing tremendous defense. He is blocking shots, he in the right position and holding his own. He has always been scorer but nobody has noticed how great his defense has been."
Stoudemire and the rest of the New York Knicks return to the court Wednesday night when they play the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.