The Knicks don’t need Amar’e Stoudemire to avoid sinking below .500 at the All-Star break. Saturday’s win at New Jersey took care of that.
But having their leading scorer back from the sprained big toe that sidelined him against the Nets in time for Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, their last before the break, would provide an emotional lift for the Knicks (27-26).
This is a grudge match, after all, not because the Hawks won the last meeting 111-102, but because of some differences of philosophy. Hawks forward Al Horford, for instance, believed it apropos to pound his chest after making a big shot.
Stoudemire held a different opinion, which he hopes to elaborate upon Wednesday.
“He hit a couple jump shots,” Stoudemire said Tuesday. “He felt good. But welcome to New York.”
The Knicks’ Shawne Williams and the Hawks’ Marvin Williams had a physical altercation that same game. So Stoudemire, who told The Post that his toe felt “better than it did three days ago,” doesn’t plan on keeping his 26.2-point scoring average on the bench for this one. Though he has yet to test the toe full-out, he said he can run and jump.
Aside from evening things up, this is an opportunity to beat a quality team. The Hawks are 34-20 and in second place in the Southeast Division.
“It’s going to be a very, very intense game after what happened in Atlanta,” Stoudemire said. “I think we feel we could have played a lot better than we did after watching film [Tuesday]. So tomorrow‘s going to be a very, very important game for us.”
Stoudemire may sit out Sunday's All-Star Game, in which he was selected to start, but he thinks he has enough movement to give Horford his comeuppance.
“I told you before, he doesn’t want to see me, man,” Stoudemire said.