Carmelo Anthony had all the publicity when he came over from Denver last week, but it was holdover Amar’e Stoudemire who proved the difference in tonight’s stunning 91-86 win over the Heat in Miami.
The victory, the Knicks’ biggest of the season by far, proved that perhaps they may be ready to play with the big boys on a consistent basis.
They are still trying to gain a chemistry among Stoudemire and newcomers Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
But in the meantime, they picked up a huge win over a star-studded cast.
A huge block on LeBron James by Stoudemire, who finished with 16 points, allowed Shawne Williams to hit a pair of free throws to extend a one-point lead to three with 6.7 seconds remaining.
Bill Walker, whose three-point fling at the end of the second quarter wrapped up a 16-0 run that sent the Knicks into halftime with a one-point lead, finished it off with two free throws.
The Knicks (30-27) ended the game on a 13-2 run, finishing a second half marked more by ragged play than sharp basketball.
Anthony finished with 29 points, but it was all about the Knicks’ defense that held James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and their supporting cast to just 52 points over the final three quarters.
Billups finished with 16 points, with Walker adding 10 off the bench.