Notebook: Numbers don't lie, STAT

After his first back-to-back games of the season, Amar'e Stoudemire said he felt no soreness in his knee at all. That’s believable and is a good sign for the Knicks.

His knee is not all he’s feeling good about, though. Stoudemire says he's improving on the defensive end, as well.

Amar'e Stoudemire

Amar'e Stoudemire

#1 PF
New York Knicks

2013 STATS

  • GM6
  • PPG9.0

  • RPG3.0

  • APG0.5

  • FG%.435

  • FT%.667

“My improvement is where I’m keying in on defensively,” Stoudemire said. “I'm playing much better defense than I did in the past. I feel like I’m improving each game defensively. That’s my goal. I watch film every night to improve defensively, and that’s what I've been doing.”

Well, not so much against Chicago.

Carlos Boozer bullied STAT in the post, as well as hitting jumpers in his face, finishing the game with 17 points and six rebounds. Amar'e finished with a quiet five points and one rebound.

He said he didn't feel any soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, which he called a "great sign."

"Initially, I wasn't cleared to play back-to-backs, but since I've been feeling well over the past week, doctors cleared me to play back-to-backs. So [that's] definitely a great sign," Stoudemire said.

Slow starts = sad endings: In their past eight losses, the Knicks have outscored their opponent in the first quarter just once (by two points against Houston on Dec. 17).

A slow start doomed them again Friday.

Carmelo Anthony struggled early on, missing his first six shots. The Knicks seemed to revert to their bad habits of setting no offensive plays with little ball movement. They relied heavily on Melo and J.R Smith -- who went a combined 2-for-13 in the first quarter. At the end of the night, the Knicks finished with just 17 assists -- three off from their season average.

Woody takes blame: After getting off to their hottest start in more than a decade, the Knicks have seen a steady decline in recent weeks thanks to slippage on both sides of the ball. Obviously, part of that is because of injuries.

But Mike Woodson, to his credit, put the blame on himself Friday night.

“We can point the finger at a lot of things, first with me,” Woodson said. “I’m the coach; I gotta get us out of this drought. I don’t like the way we’re starting ballgames because that’s been an indication of how we’ve played throughout the course of the game.”