New York Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire, left, dunks the...

New York Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire, left, dunks the ball as Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin looks on during the first half. (Nov. 20, 2010) Credit: AP

LOS ANGELES - This wasn't a game, this was an NBA Jam Session. This was a night when the rim begged for mercy and the crowd begged for more.

The Clippers' Blake Griffin put on an explosive show of power against a player who has made a career of a powerful above-the-rim game, Amar'e Stoudemire. The Knicks, however, came away with the most important highlight, a 124-115 win over the Clippers Saturday night at Staples Center.

Stoudemire, who had 39 points and 11 rebounds, called it "video game play'' and added, "It was a fun game to play in, in the simple fact that we won.''

Griffin, who once attended Stoudemire's skills academy, scored 44 points, a career high and franchise rookie record. He had 15 rebounds and seven assists, plus a catalogue of amazing dunks.

"Athletically, I think we saw probably the best that you can be from both,'' Mike D'Antoni said of the power forward matchup. "We saw some plays that you don't see very often. It was a great game.''

It was the third straight victory for the Knicks (6-8), who finished this western swing with a 3-1 record.

"Right now we're in a good frame of mind,'' D'Antoni said. "We're going to go back home and we need to win some games at home.''

They're a much different team than when they left six days ago with a 3-7 record and a five-game losing streak. And a big reason for the change, aside from the relatively weak opponents they faced on this trip, is the play of Danilo Gallinari, who for a second straight night came up big in the fourth quarter with 17 of his 31 points, which matches his career high.

Gallinari did not miss a single shot from anywhere in the fourth, as he was 4-for-4 from the field, 2-for-2 from three-point range and 7-for-7 from the line.

"He's just doing a good job of mixing it up: shooting threes, faking threes and getting fouled and taking it to the hole,'' D'Antoni said. "That's how he's got to play. That's him. Hopefully, he can keep it going.''

Raymond Felton had 20 points and seven assists as the Knicks recorded 22 assists on 35 field goals in the game. It was the second straight game in which the Knicks scored more than 120 points as the offense managed to get itself untracked on this trip.

The Knicks, who entered the game fourth in the NBA in free-throw attempts (368) took 51 free throws in the game and hit 43. Stoudemire was 11-for-16 and Gallinari was 13-for-13, including 7-for-7 in the fourth. The Clippers were 22-for-29 from the line.

But the defense clearly still needs work. For the third time this season and second in as many nights, the Knicks saw an opponent throw down a candidate for "Dunk of the Year.'' This time it was Griffin, who posterized a stationary Timofey Mozgov with a nasty facial with 5:46 left in the third quarter.

On Friday night, Warriors guard Monta Ellis flew down the middle for a spectacular dunk over Ronny Turiaf. Earlier this season, Derrick Rose exploded by Toney Douglas for a jaw-dropping two-handed jam.

The dunk-a-thon against the Knicks this season is somewhat of a misconception, though. They actually are much better defensively than they've been in recent years, especially in defending the rim (they went into the game leading the NBA with 7.69 blocks per game).

Mozgov, despite his 7-1 stature, has not been nearly as effective as he could be because he seems so concerned about getting into foul trouble that he doesn't aggressively challenge shots. At one point, after Eric Gordon (25 points) drove the lane for a dunk, Gallinari barked at Mozgov for letting Gordon get to the basket.

Griffin got the Knicks again with another powerful jam with 5:46 left, running down a loose ball and finishing over Gallinari to cut the Knicks' lead to 108-103. But the Knicks responded with eight consecutive points, capped by another rim-rocker, this time by Stoudemire over Griffin and DeAndre Jordan with 4:11 left to give the Knicks a 116-103 lead.

Stoudemire said he wasn't trying to answer Griffin's dunks with his own - he also dunked over a falling Jordan later in the game - but that he was trying to put away the game.

"The plan for us was to have a great trip,'' Stoudemire said. "Having four games in five nights, we knew it would be tough for us . . . So I wanted to take it upon myself to apply some energy out there, and it just happened to turn out that way.''


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