|Amar'e Stoudemire Makes Rusty Return To Knicks|
Even for a man as accomplished as Amar'e Stoudemire - so used to playing on some of basketball's biggest stages - the goal he had been working so hard towards for the past nine-months, and the moment an entire city had been anticipating, was a touch overwhelming. But last night wasn't as much about what Stoudemire could provide for the Knicks on the court (he finished with 6 points on 3/8 shooting, 1 rebound and a block), as it was just for the fact that he was back at all.
The Knicks fell to the Portland Trailblazers last night, 105-100, and Stoudemire was limited in his minutes on-court - as well as his effectiveness - but for the Garden faithful who gave him a rousing standing ovation when entered the game with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter, it was just great to have S.T.A.T. back.
“I almost shed a tear when I walked down the court with the standing ovation,” said Stoudemire post-game. “It was a phenomenal feeling. Haven’t quite felt anything like that in my career before so it’s great to see that the fans were patient with me and were waiting on my return.”
From the outset you could tell that Stoudemire had missed months of basketball. He turned the ball over on his first possession and looked a couple of steps slow defensivley throughout the game, his wind certainly wasn't there - he could be seen breathing heavily during a couple of timeouts. He admitted that he still has a way to go before he can truly integrate himself with the team's structures.
"The game felt like it was going a hundred miles an hour in that first half," said Stoudemire. "I had a couple - easy looking - shots, I normally would have knocked those down but I'm still a little rusty. The second half was better than my first half, and hopefully my second game will be better than my first game."
The Knicks will be hoping so as well. They've fallen back to earth somewhat after their explosion out the gates to begin the season, and even with a 21-10 record the questions surrounding the team's - especially Carmelo Anthony's - ability to mesh with the power forward linger. As has been the case since he arrived from Denver via trade, Anthony played his best basketball last night when Stoudemire was on the bench.
In their time on the court together last night Anthony scored just one bucket. Despite that, Anthony maintains that Stoudemire will return to his old self eventually.
"First of all, it was great just to see him back out there," said Anthony. "It's the system. “The system we have, you can put anybody in the system and it will work. “The adjustment is he’s coming off the bench now rather than starting. That’s the adjustment for everybody. That’s the easy part. As players we’re not worried about that.’’
At some point this season, hopefully sooner than later, the Knicks will have to figure out how to best utilize Stoudemire with Anthony. Even if they decide to keep bringing him off the bench the fact of the matter is that New York are a better ball club with Stoudemire on the roster, and he will be playing crunch-time minutes with Anthony on the floor.
Now that Stoudemire's actual return is out of the way the Knicks can focus on the remaining 51-games they have to get S.T.A.T. back to his old self. One might even say that the Knicks season essentially starts next game against San Antonio on Thursday night. Stoudemire will be ready.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 January 2013 15:41 )|