Amar'e Stoudemire returning to form, connecting with Raymond Felton
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The night belonged to Carmelo Anthony, but lost amid his historic game was Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton connecting on a play that was reminiscent of two years ago.
Felton drove into the lane, drew two defenders and saw Stoudemire cutting baseline to the basket. Felton threw a hook pass to Stoudemire for a rousing dunk.
"There's going to be more of that," said Stoudemire, who scored 18 points in the Knicks' 106-104 win over the Hawks on Sunday night at the Garden. "We're just getting started. This was only his second game back. I'm sure there's going to be more exciting plays between Raymond and myself."
Felton and Stoudemire have obvious chemistry from the 50-plus games they played together during the 2010-11 season before the point guard was traded to Denver in a package for Anthony. The more Felton and Stoudemire play together, the better the Knicks will be offensively.
The Knicks have some things to clean up defensively, though. They allowed the Hawks to shoot 60 percent, almost wasting a 42-point night by Anthony in which he tied franchise records by hitting nine three-pointers and scoring at least 20 points for the 29th consecutive game.
Anthony drove left around Josh Smith to hit the winning layup with 12.5 seconds left, converting it into a three-point play. But it was almost for naught; Smith then had a wide-open look on a potential game-winning three-pointer. The Knicks escaped a brutal loss when Smith's try was long.
The Knicks' offense also has regressed. They're hoping that with Felton back after missing 12 games with a fractured right pinkie and with Stoudemire seemingly returning to his old form, offense won't be an issue.
Stoudemire scored eight points in the final 6:18 against the Hawks. He had 20 the night before in Philadelphia and had a huge tip-in late in the Knicks' win in Boston on Thursday.
"Amare's been great, coming back off his injury," Felton said. "He's been great. He's been playing great minutes. He's been doing everything we ask of him."
Stoudemire has been showing some post moves lately and is confident that his offensive game will be fine. He's averaging 17.0 points and shooting 61.4 percent (27-for-44) in the last five games and is averaging 12.6 points in his 12 games. "It's just a matter of getting my rhythm back," he said. "The more I play, the more I'm out there, the better rhythm, and then it becomes so easy for me."
Stoudemire said he's focusing on being a better defensive player. He's out of place at times but has made some big plays, too. He blocked Zaza Pachulia's layup in the fourth quarter Sunday.
"We just have to continue to ride him and push him in the right direction," Woodson said. "He's so curious and anxious defensively in trying to do the right thing, and that's very encouraging."
Felton a step slow on 'D'
Woodson acknowledged that Felton couldn't stop the 76ers' Jrue Holiday (35 points) and the Hawks' Jeff Teague (27) the past two games. "Raymond right now is trying to get his lateral movement back," Woodson said on ESPN Radio Monday. "He's trying to find himself and he's got torched the last two games with Holiday and Teague. But he'll bounce back. I thought he had a great floor game for us [Sunday] night. Raymond will be back to Raymond before you know it."