Amar'e Stoudemire did not look right in his return to action on Tuesday night, as the Knicks fell at home to the Blazers, 105-100. It was almost as though he hadn't played in a while:
Amar'e looks like he hasn't played all season. What the hell.— netw3rk (@netw3rk) January 2, 2013
The reviews for Stoudemire's return were resoundingly negative, principally on defense. It all started off so well, with the New York crowd showering an entering Amar'e with a surprising amount of affection:
STAT's play and fit in the lineup have been disappointing for a season, but Knicks fans value his personality and proud representation of his team. At the time, the reception seemed to augur fantastically for the evening. The crowd was with him. They were giving STAT a chance.
Then Amar'e got the ball and promptly stepped out of bounds.
Caught up to NYK-POR. An NBA season is a long process, but this new process in NY got off to about as bad a start as possible.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 2, 2013
Not the greatest start for Amar'e. He's 0-of-4 with no rebounds in 6 min. Blazers up on Knicks by 9.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) January 2, 2013
Offensively, Stoudemire was eventually able to manage three made baskets on eight shots for six points. That's not the worst outcome in 17 minutes of play, but his defense was comically bad.
Where exactly was Amar'e going there? His man had the ball and he ran away!— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) January 2, 2013
Amar'e is a physically gifted defender who has a negative impact due to his poor defensive instincts. Plays like the one where J.J. Hickson crept behind Stoudemire for a lob dunk served as a reminder that the Knicks power forward often loses his sense of the action.
Now, New York has an injury-compromised Stoudemire. It's his first game back and he's not up to game speed, but you have to wonder what life will be like if Amar'e never returns to physical form. He's already a bad defender as is. Imagine if that gets combined with a lack of foot speed and hops.
There were some positive signs, though. Amar'e worked the pick-and-roll, and even opened up J.R. Smith for a three on one of the actions.
Whoa, I liked that Melo/Amare PnR there. More of this, please.— Jamie O'Grady (@OpinesMine) January 2, 2013
More of this, indeed. STAT will need to be a lot better offensively than he was last season if he's going to play defense like he did on Tuesday. Or, as the hilarious Seth Rosenthal tongue 'n' cheeked it:
TRADE AMAR'E— Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) January 2, 2013
To be sure, the Knicks were bad outside of their returning big men, looking slow and stilted while going down by 20 points against Portland.
#Knicks seem to be New Years game cursin' and hangover nursin'! Too much bubblin' causing a strugglin'!— (Not) Walt Frazier (@NotWaltFrazier) January 2, 2013
They closed the gap thanks to some really inspired late play by Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, eventually cutting the lead down to three with less than a minute to go. Then Damian Lillard replicated Jeremy Lin's dagger versus Toronto and effectively ended the game:
That shot wasn't STAT's fault, but the Knicks were minus-9 with him on the floor. If he continues to struggle, the reaction should be interesting in what amounts to the least patient, most hyperbolic, basketball media atmosphere.