The NBA: Brand New Knicks?

Amar'e and the Knicks are on the rise again. Can they sustain
the momentum all the way to a playoff run?
*Unless otherwise specified, all images are from the Associated Press.

"When you start looking at it, the cream of the crop is Miami and Chicago, and I guarantee you Miami and Chicago sure don’t want to see the New York Knicks at 7 or 8 (seeds). . . . There are teams out there saying, I don't want to play them." – Philly coach Doug Collins on how dangerous the Knicks have become.

Collins sure thinks that, wherever the Knicks finish, they're going to give someone a lot of trouble in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

IF the Knicks get there, which, judging by their unblemished post-D’Antoni record, might be just a matter of time.

Collins also expressed his adoration for NYK after the Knicks beat his own Sixers. With the win, the resurgent Knickerbockers moved to just 3 games shy of Philly in the Atlantic, and there are about 19 games left in their schedule. The victory also assured New York of an advantage in the event of a tiebreaker. 

A lot of people think the sudden revival of the Big Apple’s finest is due to the ejection of Mike D’Antoni. A lot of other people also think it’s because of interim coach Mike Woodson. Some people are still all hyped up on the J-Lin bandwagon.

I think it’s all thanks to Amar’e Stoudemire.

Amar’e was great early in the season, but he got into a slump and wasn’t his dominant self, especially in the recent losing spell of the Knicks a about a week ago.

Maybe it’s the surgically-repaired knees? Maybe it was the long break he had in sick bay? Maybe it was D’Antoni after all?

Amar’e, however, has gotten back on the horse big time.

Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young both felt Stoudemire’s big time rage when he slammed one off a rebound in their last game. 

That was the guy, that was the play, the Knicks needed to roll back into contention and relevance.

Amar’e was the guy who put New York back in the map last season. Melo came and made things bigger. Chandler and Lin expanded that even more.

But, again, it all started with Amar’e.

And, I’m calling right now, IF the Knicks do make the postseason dance, it’ll be because of Amar’e. IF they achieve any form of playoff success, it’ll be because of Amar’e.

If, indeed, these Knicks are brand new, it’s not because D’Antoni left or because Woodson is so awesome.

It’s because Amar’e is brand new, too.

After the JUMP, March 21, 2012 stat-stuffers:

ORL over PHX, 103-93
Dwight Howard had 28 points and 16 rebounds as the Orlando Magic snapped a two-game losing streak with a win over the Phoenix Suns. Ryan Anderson scored a game-high 29 points for the Magic and Glen Davis added 16 off the bench. Jared Dudley scored 17 points and Robin Lopez added 14 for the Suns, who lost their second straight and fell two games back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

NYK over PHI, 82-79
Amare Stoudemire scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 9 rebounds as the Knicks held off the 76ers. Jeremy Lin scored 18 points -- although he made just 4-of-17 attempts from the field -- and Carmelo Anthony contributed 10 for the Knicks, who remained undefeated under interim head coach Mike Woodson at 5-0. Jrue Holiday had 16 points in the defeat, which is the Sixers' fourth in their last five games.

CHI over TOR, 94-82
Luol Deng had 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls rallied in the fourth quarter to down the Toronto Raptors. Chicago, which was playing its fifth straight game without reigning MVP Derrick Rose due to a strained groin, was also aided by C.J. Watson's 15 points. DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 23 points, while James Johnson netted 16 with seven rebounds for the Raptors, who dropped their third consecutive contest.

WAS over NJN, 108-89
Nene made his Wizards debut on Wednesday night. He scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds as Washington routed the Nets. Jordan Crawford had a game-high 23 points while Roger Mason Jr. added 16 for the Wizards, who halted a two-game slide. Kris Humphries finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Nets, losers of four straight. 

ATL over CLE, 103-102 (OT) 
Joe Johnson's 22 points included the game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer in regulation and the game-winning basket late in overtime as Atlanta took down Cleveland,. Josh Smith poured in 32 points and pulled down 17 rebounds for the Hawks, who have won three of four. Kyrie Irving finished with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, but it was not enough for the Cavaliers, who dropped their fourth in five games. 

GSW over NOH, 101-92
Klay Thompson erupted for a career-high 27 points to help Golden State get past New Orleans. David Lee netted 25 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and Brandon Rush scored 16 points of the bench for the Warriors, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Jarrett Jack's 17-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound triple-double -- the first of his career -- was not enough for the Hornets, who have lost four of five. 

OKC over LAC< 114-91
Kevin Durant collected 32 points and nine rebounds Wednesday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled over the Los Angeles Clippers. Russell Westbrook added 19 points, Serge Ibaka scored 15 and Derek Fisher had 5 points in his Thunder debut. Randy Foye led Los Angeles with 23 points and Chris Paul added 13 points and 10 assists. Blake Griffin scored just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting for the Clippers, who have dropped the first two of their back-to-back-to-back road games.

SAS over MIN, 116-100
Tim Duncan scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down 15 rebounds as San Antonio dominated the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal added 16 points apiece, while Danny Green netted 14 and Tiago Splitter contributed 11 in the Spurs' 15th straight home win against Minnesota. JJ Barea had 18 points and 11 assists in the Timberwolves' sixth loss in eight games.

DEN over DET, 116-115
JaVale McGee's put-back slam in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter helped the Denver Nuggets escape Pepsi Center win over the Detroit Pistons. McGee, who was acquired from the Wizards as part of a three-team trade on Thursday, finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Denver closed out a season- high, nine-game homestand with a 5-4 record. Ben Gordon connected on 9-of-9 three-pointers en route to a season-high 45 points in a losing effort for Detroit, which lost its third straight and for the fourth time in five games.

LAL over DAL, 109-93
Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol had 27 as the Lakers cruised past the Mavericks. Recently acquired point guard Ramon Sessions added 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting while Matt Barnes finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Los Angeles made 58.4 percent of its shots to halt a two-game slide. Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points to pace Dallas and Jason Terry added 23. The Mavericks saw their four-game win streak come to an end.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Ben Gordon (DET) – 45
Kevin Durant (OKC) & Josh Smith (ATL) – 32

Ben Gordon hit NINE threes in a losing
effort against the Denver Nuggets.
Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Josh Smith (ATL) – 17
Dwight Howard (ORL) & Kris Humphries (NJN) – 16 

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
JJ Barea (MIN) & Jarrett Jack (NOH) – 11
Nate Robinson (GSW) & Chris Paul (LAC) – 10 

Jarrett Jack unloaded his first career triple-double,
but it wasn't enough as NOH lost to GSW.
Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Chris Paul (LAC) – 5
Jason Kidd (DAL), Gary Neal (SAS), & Jeff Teague (ATL) – 4 

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Elton Brand (PHI) – 5
Chris Kaman (NOH), Al-Farouq Aminu (NOH), Dominic McGuire (GSW) – 4 

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Ben Gordon (DET) – 9
Ryan Anderson (ORL) – 7
Randy Foye (LAC) – 5 

March 21, 2012 First Five
C – Dwight Howard (ORL) – 28pts, 16rebs, 3blks
F – Josh Smith (ATL) – 32pts, 17rebs, 5asts, 3blks
F – Kevin Durant (OKC) – 32pts, 9rebs, 5asts, 2stls, 1blk
G – Ben Gordon (DET) – 45pts, 9 treys, 8asts, 2stls
G – Kyrie Irving (CLE) – 29pts, 9rebs, 9asts, 3 treys, 3stls

Deron Williams is the present, and Kyrie Irving
is the future. 

Honorable Mention:
Jarrett Jack (NOH) – 17pts, 11asts, 10rebs
Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 30pts, 5rebs, 4asts, 1stl
Pau Gasol (LAL) – 27pts, 9rebs, 1ast

Daily Zap:

*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Sports Network.

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