Amare Stoudemire's older brother, Hazell, lived a more troubled life than the Knicks power forward. He had spent time in prison and was arrested 22 times since 1993, according to the Polk County Sheriff's website.
But to Stoudemire, Hazell, who passed away in a car crash last week, was always "Big STAT." According to a source, he "always looked up to Hazell, regardless of whether he was in prison or not -- that was his guy." At Hazell's funeral on Saturday, Stoudemire's family said it was the first time he had cried since he was 12.
Now that visible pain will stay with "Little STAT" for the rest of his life. Stoudemire got a teardrop tattoo on Monday right below his right eye, in memory of his older bro.
"The tear tattoo shows I'm still crying inside," he said, according to the New York Post. "It’s hard to explain how close my brother was to me. He was my father figure and mentor and why I played basketball. He's part of my success so I'm always crying inside."
Stoudemire has always been an emotional player on the court and Tuesday night in Toronto, he showed some of that flair in the second half, after looking rusty in the first. No one can imagine what was going through his mind, his first game back after his brother's death, but STAT was able to feed off his teammates' energy and play better.
Stoudemire was 2-for-9 from the field heading into halftime, but finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, including a key basket with 2:39 remaining to cut the Knicks' deficit to 86-82, after they trailed by 17 points.
A lot of talk before the game surrounded how Stoudemire would play with Jeremy Lin in the pick-and-roll, and they had a few Steve Nash-like connections. Lin's ability to draw the defense in by quickly penetrating the open seams (like a Pro Bowl running back) and weaving through the paint while still maintaining his dribble enabled Stoudemire to free up on the block and get gimme looks at the rim -- just like he had in Phoenix.
Stoudemire and Lin showed chemistry as the Raptors game progressed, and Stoudemire finished 5-for-10 from the field off Lin's passes (3-for-12 in all other situations). Stoudemire’s results, based on Lin's play, were typical for the rest of the team, as they struggled to generate their own offense.
Knicks' Offense Tuesday Against Raptors
Off Lin's Passes | All Others*
Field goals -- 11-for-23 | 13-for-37
Field goal percentage -- 47.8 | 35.1
Effective field goal percentage -- 52.2 | 37.8
Points -- 24 | 28
*Not including Lin’s numbers or free throws
Stoudemire and Lin were especially effective using the pick-and-roll, a strategy the big man had not used much this season. Entering Tuesday, Stoudemire was averaging only one field goal attempt per game when using the P&R offense, and he averaged a half-point more per play against the Raptors than he had all season.
Stoudemire In Pick-And-Roll Offense
First 22 Games | Tuesday
Field goals -- 11-for-22 | 3-for-5
Field goal percentage -- 50.0 | 60.0
Points per play -- 1.0 | 1.5
Points per game -- 1.3 | 9.0
Source: ESPN Stats & Info
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Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley was used in this report.