Stoudemire pours in 41 as Knicks roll
Apparently not getting enough of a workout, Amare Stoudemire did a few push-ups before heading to the line for some late-game free throws.
Stoudemire wants the New York Knicks to be tougher, and on Sunday he simply overpowered the Philadelphia 76ers.
The All-Star forward matched his season high with 41 points on 17-of-21 shooting in the Knicks' 117-103 victory, which gave them a split of an important home-and-home series.
''He understands the big moment and the stage,'' Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''That's why he came to New York.''
Rookie Landry Fields added a career-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Knicks rebounded from a 100-98 loss Friday night in Philadelphia to snap a two-game losing streak and win for just the fourth time in 13 games.
''We knew how important this game was for us,'' Stoudemire said. ''In Philly they caught us off guard with their energy and the way they play, and we came out tonight and retaliated.''
Stoudemire, outplayed by Elton Brand on Friday, rebounded with his 17th career 40-point game. Raymond Felton had 13 points and 13 assists as the Knicks shot a season-best 59.7 percent.
''We just kept playing uphill,'' Sixers coach Doug Collins said. ''Amare was super. Their two guards had 38 points and 14 assists.''
Stoudemire scored 21 on Friday, but shot only 7 of 19 and was one of several Knicks who couldn't contain Brand. He had 28 points for Philadelphia, which could have moved within a game of New York for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. But there was no late run, two nights after the Sixers rallied with a 15-0 burst in the fourth quarter.
This time, Fields hit three of the Knicks' five 3-pointers that helped them stay well ahead in the final period.
''STAT said it best,'' Fields said of Stoudemire. ''We need four good quarters, not just two, not just three. We did that well tonight.''
Brand shot 10 of 14, two nights after finishing with a season-high 33 points and 16 rebounds in his best performance since the 2006-07 season. Lou Williams scored 19 points and fellow reserve Thaddeus Young had 16, but the Sixers had their three-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in eight games.
''They have a really talented team. They can score in bunches and you saw that tonight,'' Brand said. ''We had a great streak and we're playing really well, so we need to regroup and get on to Atlanta.''
The Knicks quickly extended a four-point halftime lead to double digits in the third quarter, opening a 15-point advantage midway through the period. Philadelphia cut it to three by the end, but the Knicks were up 86-80 after hitting 63 percent of their shots in the third.
Three-pointers by Wilson Chandler and Toney Douglas pushed it to 92-80 early in the fourth, and the Sixers never could put much of a dent in New York's lead.
The only negative for the Knicks was Stoudemire's 14th technical foul of the season, which puts him two away from an automatic one-game suspension. Called by referee Bob Delaney for his reaction after being whistled for a foul while going for a steal, Stoudemire said even the official told him it wasn't a bad display, and planned to call the league office in hopes of getting it rescinded.
''I don't know how you play the game without emotion,'' D'Antoni said, adding Stoudemire never curses. ''I do not get it. It's an emotional game and I would rather players play with emotion.''
The Knicks seemed to be in control of the No. 6 seed - which could mean avoiding a first-round matchup with Boston or Miami - after their strong December, but the Sixers put together a 20-13 stretch after starting the season 3-13 to put the pressure on.
Starting point guard Jrue Holiday shot only 1 of 8 and has been held below 10 points in five of the last eight games. He said offensively he ''just didn't have it today.''
''I think everybody has games were they're not so good offensively,'' Holiday said. ''One thing I pride myself on personally is defense and I think I played defense well today.''
The Knicks shot 59 percent in the first quarter, with Stoudemire scoring 10 points for a 31-24 lead. He had nine more in the second, including a three-point play with 32 seconds left as New York led 55-51 going to halftime.
Notes: Knicks president Donnie Walsh, hoping to work out a deal for Carmelo Anthony before the trading deadline, thinks he's getting a better idea of what could be available. ''I don't think we have anything going, but at least we're getting a feeling of possibilities, let's put it that way,'' he said. Walsh added he wasn't any more confident of a deal, but ''we have a better feeling for what's going to happen.'' ... Danilo Gallinari missed a free throw while trying to convert a three-point play early in the second quarter, ending his streak of 37 consecutive makes. He had a streak of 43 in a row earlier this season and now owns the second- and fourth-longest streaks in team history. Chris Duhon made 44 in a row in 2008 and Latrell Sprewell made 41 consecutive attempts in the 2001-02 season. ... The Knicks are 10-5 on Super Bowl Sunday.