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Monday, March 4, 2013
Opening Tip: More Amar'e in fourth?

By Ian Begley

Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: Should Mike Woodson use Amar'e Stoudemire in crunch time of close games?


The Knicks' offense was atrocious late in Sunday's loss to the Heat.

The Knicks missed 11 of 17 shots in the fourth quarter -- including seven of their final nine -- as the Heat turned a four-point deficit into a six-point win.

Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar'e Stoudemire isn't getting many fourth-quarter minutes -- but that could change.
Amar'e Stoudemire was on the court to start the fourth quarter, but was replaced by Tyson Chandler with 7:56 to go after the Knicks' lead disappeared.

From there, the Knicks' offense sputtered. They made just four of 12 shots to close out the game, struggling to find a scoring option outside of Carmelo Anthony.

So one of the questions bouncing around the Knicks' locker room after the game was this: Why not use Stoudemire down the stretch if your offense is struggling?

Mike Woodson said he didn't consider turning to Stoudemire in the closing minutes of the game.

"No, not at that particular time because they were small and I went with Tyson against (Chris) Bosh," he said. "We just tried to keep the matchup."

What Woodson didn't say is that playing Stoudemire with Anthony in crunch time compromises the Knicks' defense.

For what it's worth, Stoudemire was diplomatic when asked about his fourth-quarter usage.

"It all depends on how the coaching staff views the game," Stoudemire said. "I'm just ready whenever they call me."

Since coming back from knee surgery, Stoudemire has been on a 30-minute restriction. On Sunday he played 21 minutes, with just four coming in the fourth quarter, and scored 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

In 26 games, he has averaged 6.3 fourth-quarter minutes. Of the 165 fourth-quarter minutes he has played, just 24 of those are in the last five minutes of games with the Knicks ahead or behind by five points.

Do you think that number needs to increase?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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