Amare Stoudemire scored 32 points in his first game with New York and the Knicks shook off a rusty start to pull away for a 125-113 win Sunday over Italian team Olimpia Milano in an exhibition game.
The Knicks looked sluggish in the first half, struggling with turnovers as the hosts took a 41-36 lead in the second quarter. But a 3-pointer from Milan native Danilo Gallinari seemed to kickstart New York’s offense and the Knicks built a 12-point lead at the end of the third.
Gallinari finished with 24 points, including five 3-pointers, and seven rebounds. Three other Knicks players finished in double figures scoring: Wilson Chandler with 17, Anthony Randolph with 16 and Timofey Mozgov with 10.
Former Minnesota Timberwolves center Oleksiy Pecherov led Milano with 23 points.
The game was the first of the NBA’s annual European preseason tour. New York plays the Minnesota Timberwolves in Paris on Wednesday.
It was also a homecoming of sorts for Gallinari and New York coach Mike D’Antoni.
D’Antoni played point guard for Milano in the 1980s and helped the team win two Euroleague titles and five Italian championships. He also coached the team in the early 1990s.
Gallinari played two seasons for Milano before joining the Knicks, and exchanged hugs with his former teammates before the opening tip-off.
”He started off really well,” D’Antoni said. ”He comes up big in big moments, but I think the emotion hit him at the start of the second quarter. But at the end he came good again.”
Stoudemire looked comfortable with his new teammates and set the tone from the start, opening the scoring with a dunk after just nine seconds. His second basket was more finesse than power, as he drove through the lane and put up a reverse layup with his back to the rim to give New York a 14-9 lead midway through the period.
The former Phoenix Suns forward, who joined the Knicks in a sign-and-trade deal this offseason, continued to use his physical presence underneath the basket to create easy points and draw fouls. He finished 10 of 13 from the floor, and 11 of 13 from the free-throw line.
With the Knicks having already pulled away, Randolph and Toney Douglas combined to provide one of the highlights of the night midway through the fourth quarter.
Douglas led a fast break and put the ball up off the glass for Randolph to slam home with both hands, bringing even some of the Milano fans to their feet.
Overall, D’Antoni was pleased with the preseason opener – aside from the turnovers.
”We turned the ball over 28 times for 31 points, but I think that for the first time out with these guys they did all right,” he said. ”We need to play with energy. We have 11 or 12 guys who can play and we don’t need to drop from that level.
”We were fast in attack, but not very efficient. I’m not worried about the mistakes as we can clean them up. We just need to get the players into the right mindset both in attack and defense.”