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Knicks' turnaround faster than anticipated

Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks celebrates

Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks celebrates a dunk in the second half against the Toronto Raptors. (Dec. 8, 2010) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Here's the shocking tabloid revelation on the Knicks:

"I'm very disappointed in [Amar'e Stoudemire]," said Ronny Turiaf, Stoudemire's frontcourt teammate in reserve. Stoudemire has scored at least 30 points in six consecutive games, one short of Willie Naulls' 48-year-old club record, and on Wednesday night had Madison Square Garden fans chanting "M-V-P!"

Yet Turiaf declared, "I think he should average 50 [points], 25 [rebounds] and 10 [assists] . . . So you guys can start a controversy about Ronny Turiaf's disappointment in Amar'e."

But hold the presses. Turiaf was smiling broadly, obviously luxuriating in the kind of satire that has free rein when a team has won six straight and 11 of 12.

The Knicks have a chance to extend those streaks Friday night in Washington against the 6-15 Wizards. The real news has been their resurrection from a 3-8 start, to the point that players and coach Mike D'Antoni - the object of much talk-radio abuse a month ago - Thursdaywere being asked if they are a playoff team.

Stoudemire's answer: "If we keep going. It's a long year. I feel if we keep playing and improving, we've got a chance to do something special."

D'Antoni acknowledged that at 3-8, there was "always the risk" the newly assembled roster would tip off the wall of higher possibilities - Humpty Dumpty-like - and not be put back together again.

"But, you know, we don't have a timetable on how we could get this saved," D'Antoni said. "Maybe it would take a half a year or two months.

"But luckily, it came along. A team is never as bad as you think it is and never as good as you think it is. It's very precarious, staying on top or getting up there. A team having chemistry, as a coach, you just don't know. You hope for it and feel it, but sometimes it develops and sometimes it never develops."

As far as granular detail, Stoudemire cited "great spacing" on offense and his mates spoke of tighter defense. Landry Fields, the surprising rookie addition, called the apparent magic a "meshing off the court that translates on the court." Point guard Raymond Felton's evolving partnership with Stoudemire received several mentions.

Maybe defenses will figure out a better way to clamp down on Stoudemire, who is averaging 34.2 points in the last six games.

"They might," D'Antoni said, "but that'll be good; he'll read it and somebody else will score. As long as everybody does that, it shouldn't be a problem. They can only change so much; he's still gonna get a lot of points. They might try to double him or double him quicker or try to double Raymond. You've just got to have the ability to figure it out."

A playoff team? "Time will tell," Turiaf said quite seriously. "We're working on it."

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