Stoudemire’s Triumphant Return
In an emotional homecoming for Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks trounced Phoenix 121-96. New York cruised to victory, and perhaps the only black mark on the night was Mozgov’s ejection during musora vremya. Raymond Felton managed the first triple double of his career, during a game where the Knicks led wire to wire.
The main focus of the night was Amar’e Stoudemire’s first return to Phoenix, after spending 8 years in the home uniform. In an attempt to minimize Stoudemire’s quickness, Suns coach Alvin Gentry chose Grant Hill to start at center. Although the 98 year old Hill played admirably, Stoudemire was able to score from both in & outside. It was an odd move considering Phoenix had Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat, and Robin Lopez available. Granted none of them would have deterred Stoudemire, but the three might have made the Knicks pay on the opposite end. Stoudemire’s weaknesses are rebounding and defense, and Phoenix failed to exploit them. By going with a small forward instead the Suns played right into his strengths. Hill ended the night hitting 3 of 10 for only 10 points.
In fact both teams seemed to play small, with the Knicks starting Toney Douglas and the Suns going with what could be seen as four guards (Nash, Carter, Childress, and Pietrus). New York hit more than half of their three pointers (17-33), led by Felton (5-10), Shawne Williams (4-9), and Toney Douglas (3-5). Landry Fields was a perfect 6-6 from the field for 14 points (for an eye popping 117% TS%) and also chipped in 10 rebounds.
Finally as for Mozgov’s flagrant 2 technical foul, I’m not sure it was warranted. It began when he and Lopez got physical boxing out away from the ball. After the play Mozgov ended up with the ball and Lopez reached in to slap it away. Mozgov put up his arm, most likely as a knee-jerk reaction to Lopez’s ingress. Lopez caught an elbow to the chin, and the referees stepped in immediately to eject the Knicks center. I didn’t see any intentional malice involved, other than two players getting caught in the heat of the action, and a wayward elbow finding a jaw. It deserved a technical, but not an immediate ejection in my opinion.