Amar'e Stoudemire rested in practice today after a tough four-games-in-five-nights stretch last week in which he earned the NBA's Player of the Week for the Eastern Conference.
Stoudemire averaged 29 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game over the four-game stretch, in which the Knicks went 3-1. Stoudemire also shot 60.8 percent from the field and posted a double-double in the three wins.
Russell Westbrook won the honor for the Western Conference. Funny, two of his three games were played in the East while all four of Stoudemire's were in the West.
Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari were runners-up for the award, the NBA said.
Mike D'Antoni has made some adjustments to the offense that are showing on the stat sheet. Felton, for one, is much more involved as a scorer than as the floor general who mostly sets up others. Felton is averaging 14.5 shots per game over his last seven games and is shooting at a 50 percent clip. From three-point range, he's taking five threes per game and knocking them down 41.6 percent of the time.
He's averaging 21 points per game over that stretch and yet is still racking up the assists, with 7.2 per game. No, he's not Steve Nash, but those are Nash-like numbers.
What D'Antoni has done is shift the offense to the wings, which has, as a result, allowed Gallinari to be more involved and more aggressive. Over the same seven-game stretch, Gallinari is averaging 22.2 points per game and averaging 12.2 shots and a more impressive 10.1 free throws per game.
His shooting has improved steadily since his ice cold start, too. Over the seven games, he's shooting 43 percent, and 37.2 percent from three, which is fairly average for an NBA player. Over this three-game winning streak, Gallinari is 18-for-34 (52.9 percent) from the field, 10-for-16 (62.5 percent) from three-point range and he's hit 33 of 36 from the free throw line.
The Knicks don't have a "Big Three" by definition, but by order of importance, Stoudemire, Felton and Gallinari are clearly this team's Big Three. Their production is vital. Stoudemire is still doing a lot of his scoring in iso and one-on-one situation and he's showing off a mid-range jumper that he has developed over his career. What appears to be the next phase to work on with this system is to get him into pick-and-roll situations with wing players, such as Gallinari and Landry Fields, who seem to have an easier time finding him.
Of course it remains to be seen if this road trip was an indication that things are starting to come together in the offense or more of an indication of the weakness of the opponents they faced. But the seven game sample I offered above included four losses, so you can see that there has been a steady change in the offense and as it started to click in, the team had success.