Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Updated: March 24, 9:15 AM ET
Amare Stoudemire struggles vs. Magic
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- The Knicks are just 7-10 since Carmelo Anthony's arrival, but you can't put their latest loss all on Anthony's shoulders.
That's because Amare Stoudemire, the other half of New York's All-Star tandem, had his worst night as a Knick on Wednesday.
Stoudemire missed 15 of 20 shots to finish with a season-low 13 points as New York lost 111-99 to the Orlando Magic. The Knicks have lost four straight and seven of eight, falling under .500 for the first time since Nov. 27.
Afterward, Stoudemire blamed fatigue for his subpar night.
"It's a lot of games in a few nights. ... It catches up with you at times. ... I think we are all somewhat getting a fatigue factor setting in," he said. "It's been a crazy, crazy month for us."
The Knicks are at the tail end of an 18-game March. They've played six back-to-backs and three sets of four games in five nights this month. They return to the Garden on Friday night to face the Bucks, the first of a four-games-in-six-nights stretch to close out their own version of March Madness.
"I'm hoping that when the calendar gets better and we get a couple days off, we can bounce back," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said after his team fell to 5-9 this month.
Stoudemire admitted that he felt fatigued in the first quarter against the Magic. He missed all three first-quarter shots and had just four points at halftime. He went 0-for-6 in the third quarter and salvaged an otherwise miserable night with nine points in the fourth.
"Amare is tired," D'Antoni said. "We've worn him down a little bit. ... I thought he had heavy legs tonight. He didn't have the balance that he normally has."
Stoudemire has been playing major minutes all season. He entered play on Wednesday averaging 36.9 minutes per game, the 19th-highest total in the NBA. His 2,544 minutes played were 13th-highest in the league prior to Wednesday's games.
So while an athlete's blaming fatigue might seem like a lame excuse, Stoudemire's seems justified.
"I play him a lot of minutes, and we keep talking about playing too many minutes, [but] to get to where we are, I had to," said D'Antoni, who canceled Thursday's practice about an hour after the loss to Orlando. "We're trying to get into the playoffs now, and he's paying for it a bit."
D'Antoni leaned on Stoudemire to help dig the Knicks out of their 3-8 start. The former Phoenix Sun emerged as one of the top players in the league in late November and December as the Knicks won 13 of 14 to get in playoff position.
But, on a Wednesday night in late March, after the Knicks completed their seventh game in 10 days, Stoudemire finally admitted that all of the minutes have been taking a toll.
"We are feeling the amount of games in this month," he said. "I don't think I've played this hectic in my career."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.