Knicks 105, Nets 95

Amare Stoudemire’s injury turned into Wilson Chandler’s

opportunity – and a satisfying win for the New York Knicks.

Chandler replaced the injured Stoudemire in the lineup and

scored 21 points, his first 20-point outing in nearly three weeks,

and the Knicks beat the New Jersey Nets 105-95 on Saturday night to

avoid falling below .500.

”It was very big for us,” rookie Landry Fields said. ”We came

into the game knowing Amare wasn’t going to play, so we needed that

extra energy. I think Wil put it on himself to be more aggressive

tonight and he had a great night.”

Reserve Toney Douglas added 19 points and Fields had 14, making

three big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Knicks won for

just the second time in six games and improved to 27-26.

Stoudemire missed his first game of the season with a sprained

right big toe, but the Knicks overcame their All-Star’s absence by

making 16 3-pointers, including Chandler’s that gave them the lead

for good with 4:08 left.

”With a team like that, with the way they shoot the ball,

you’ve got to hold their percentage on 3-pointers down. We didn’t

do a good job of rotating. We gave them wide-open shots in their

sweet spots,” Nets guard Devin Harris said.

New York hasn’t had a losing record since falling to 8-9 after a

loss to Atlanta on Nov. 27. The Knicks were 22-15 on Jan. 11 but

have stumbled since, with Stoudemire and fellow captain Raymond

Felton hinting after Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that

the Carmelo Anthony trade speculation was partially behind their

slump.

”This was a big win for us, because without Amare and the way

we’ve been going and everything involved, this was a good win,”

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Struggling with his shot since missing three games with a

sprained ankle, Chandler hadn’t scored 20 since putting up 25 in a

victory over Washington on Jan. 24.

”He played great and I was hoping before the game when Amare

wasn’t there people like Wilson and stuff would come out and have

to do it and the pressure would be off because Amare’s not out

there,” D’Antoni said. ”So maybe it helps him to get his rhythm

back.”

Harris scored 22 for the Nets, who were bidding for their first

three-game winning streak in two years. Brook Lopez added 19 and

Sasha Vujacic chipped in 15, but New Jersey shot just 42 percent

from the field.

The game drew an announced crowd of 18,711, the Nets’ first

sellout of the season in their temporary home at the Prudential

Center. But it was a pro-Knicks crowd that cheered louder for the

visitors as they took control in the closing minutes, with loud

boos for a couple of Nets’ trips to the free throw line.

”Before the game, a couple of our guys told me that was a

possibility, that that’s going to happen. That’s something new to

me,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ”That’s what we’re dealing

with in this environment, but that’s not the reason why we

lost.”

Vujacic’s 3-pointer tied it at 72 in the opening minute of the

fourth quarter, but the Knicks answered with 3s by Fields, Bill

Walker and Douglas in an 11-2 spurt for an 83-74 lead. New Jersey

came right back with 10 in a row, going ahead 84-83 on Harris’

3-pointer with 7:02 to go.

It was back and forth from there until Chandler and Fields hit

consecutive 3-pointers for a 93-89 edge with 2:52 remaining. Lopez

made a free throw before Timofey Mozgov converted a three-point

play, and Fields followed a free throw by Harris with another 3

from the corner to put it away at 99-91 with 48 seconds to go.

Fields improved his NBA-leading 3-point percentage in the fourth

quarter to 64.5 percent (20 of 31), holding his pose on the last

one and joking it was because he noticed it was right in front of

actress Kim Kardashian, who was seated courtside.

Stoudemire’s absence was announced about 45 minutes before the

game, with a Knicks official saying their leading scorer wasn’t

sure how he was hurt. Stoudemire played 32 minutes Friday in a

113-96 loss to the Lakers, finishing with 24 points and 10

rebounds.

He said he felt he was having a heart attack watching the

game.

”I was telling the coaching staff, I don’t see how they do it

because the game was so emotional,” Stoudemire said. ”This was a

big game for us and I think we understood the magnitude of the

game, so my emotions came out a lot tonight.”

Without him, the Knicks relied on their 3-point shooting and a

solid defensive effort to lead for much of the first half. They hit

eight of their first 13 behind the arc, and used an 8-2 burst

midway through the second quarter to open a 44-33 lead on Douglas’

layup.

Chandler had 12 points and Douglas 11 off the bench as the

Knicks led 59-54 at the half, holding the Nets to 43 percent

shooting.

The teams combined for just 11 baskets and 27 points in a

miserable third quarter. The Knicks were 1 of 10 behind the arc in

the period, but the Nets could only take one point off their

halftime deficit, with New York taking a 72-68 advantage to the

fourth after Douglas’ 3-pointer with 21 seconds left.

Notes: The Nets last won three in a row during a four-game

winning streak from Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2009. … Ronny Turiaf played

for the Knicks after missing the last three games with a sprained

right ankle. … Despite the teams’ proximity, Johnson said there

is no rivalry until the teams consistently make and occasionally

meet in the playoffs. But what about when the Nets move to Brooklyn

in 2012? ”I don’t know. We’ll cross that bridge when we get

there,” Johnson said.