Knicks actually thrive on D without Amare

February, 16, 2011
2/16/11
11:08
AM ET
When the Knicks beat the Nets 105-95 on Saturday night, they improved to 5-2 in their last seven road games and snapped a seven-game streak of allowing opponents to score 100+ points. While their accomplishments came against a 17-39 team, they won without their MVP, Amare Stoudemire, who missed his first game of the season with a sprained right big toe. It was his first inactive DNP since missing the final 29 games of the 2008-09 season.

When STAT returns tonight to face the Hawks, he'll bring his 26.2 scoring average -- second in the league behind Kevin Durant (29.1 ppg). But it's interesting to note, though, that the Knicks have been much better defensively without him this season. With Stoudemire off the floor, the Knicks allow less points per 100 possessions, force teams to shoot a lower percentage, force more turnovers and actually allow fewer second-chance points.

However, in addition to bringing points and fourth-quarter scoring -- he's tied with Durant for first in the league with a 7.1 average -- when he's on the floor, he also helps by getting his teammates better looks from beyond the arc, which is reflected in their higher percentage of makes. Not surprisingly, the team takes far more 3-pointers when Stoudemire is off the floor, but they actually shoot worse, due in large part to opponents not needing to focus as much on their inside.

Speaking of the Knicks' inside, another plus is center Timofey Mozgov's improvement as of late. Listen to these numbers:
  • He has a minus-56 +/- on the season, but in the past four games (all starts) he had only a minus-7.
  • He scored 24 points in the paint in the past three games (an eight point average). He had 58 points in the paint in 30 games prior to that (only an 1.9 point average).
  • Since returning to action on January 30th, his PER is 17.9 -- 11th-best among centers with at least 150 minutes played during that stretch.
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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2