Mike Woodson vows more crunch time for Amar'e Stoudemire

Mike Woodson talks with Amar'e Stoudemire during a

Mike Woodson talks with Amar'e Stoudemire during a timeout against the San Antonio Spurs. (Jan. 3, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

CLEVELAND -- Mike Woodson said Amar'e Stoudemire's playing time would increase, especially in the fourth quarter.

Both happened in the Knicks' 102-97 win over the Cavaliers Monday night. But it was more of a byproduct of the Knicks losing Carmelo Anthony in the second quarter to an injured right knee.

Stoudemire, who scored 22 points, played 32 minutes, including 10 in the fourth. Said Woodson, "'I went over a bit. Oops.''

Stoudemire's cap had been set at 30 minutes, and Woodson said before the game that he would start playing the six-time All-Star closer to that limit. Woodson also said the ideal situation is to have Stoudemire on the court at the end of the game with Anthony.

"Absolutely," Woodson said before the game. "There's no doubt about that. I think as we continue this journey, I've got to figure out early in the game if it's going to work. I've got to get him more than 24, 25 minutes we've been dangling around."

Woodson seemed to change his thought process about 24 hours after he said he never considered reinserting Stoudemire down the stretch of Sunday's 99-93 loss to the Heat despite the Knicks' need for some offensive punch. Stoudemire, who scored 12 points in 21 minutes, sat the last 7:56.

Since returning Jan. 1 from left knee surgery, the Knicks' $100-million man has come off the bench and hasn't finished many games. Woodson prefers going with Anthony at power forward and Tyson Chandler at center, particularly for defense. But he said he's going to try to use a more conventional lineup to get Stoudemire more minutes.

It also should take some of the offensive burden off Anthony because teams are loading up on him without a proven second scorer in there.

"I've got to figure out Amar'e because he's a big piece to our puzzle," Woodson said. "When teams are playing small ball, it's tough. They can match up to us, but still you've got to come back the other way and figure it out from a defensive standpoint.

"Miami, they've got one big on the floor and basically the rest shooters. Those are matchup nightmares for our bigs when you're trying to put two bigs on the floor. I've just got to figure that part of it out, and if it means trying to make teams match up to us to see what happens, I'm going to have to do that as well."

Stoudemire entered Monday night's game averaging 13.6 points in 22.7 minutes. He had surpassed 25 minutes only eight times in the 26 games he'd played, but he hasn't griped about his playing time.

Even after the Miami game, he said: "It's Coach's decision. Whenever my number is called, I'm ready."

 

Shooting slump

Woodson said J.R. Smith's 3-for-14 shooting from three-point range against Miami was discussed during the team's video session. He reiterated that he wants Smith to find other ways to score.

"When jump shots are not falling, you've got to go make yourself get knocked down while you're taking it to the hole and let the free-throw line be your friend," Woodson said. "There's nothing wrong with that."

Smith finished with 18 points Monday night but shot 6-for-17, including 1-for-7 on three-pointers.

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