Though most of the talk around the New York Knicks 129-125 win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon will focus on Amar'e Stoudemire reaching 30 points for a team-record eighth straight game, perhaps of greater significance is the number 16.
The Knicks outscored the Nuggets by 16 points with Stoudemire on the floor and were outscored by 12 when Stoudemire (who finished with five fouls) was on the bench.
Why is this important?
Entering the game, there had been little difference in Stoudemire’s impact when he had been on the floor. Stats and Information's Mike Lynch checked the numbers and saw the Knicks entered the day outscoring opponents by 1.9 points per 48 minutes with Stoudemire on the floor and outscoring them by 1.8 points per 48 with Stoudemire off the floor.
But this marked the second straight game in which Stoudemire’s impact was MVP-like. In a six-point win in Washington on Friday, the Knicks were plus-13 with Stoudemire on the floor and minus-7 with him out. That’s two straight difference-making performances heading into games this week against the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. The Knicks head into the week with their first eight-game win streak since the 1994-95 season.
The Elias Sports Bureau provided a pair of noteworthy nuggets on Stoudemire’s play. He’s scored 656 points in the Knicks first 25 games of the season, fifth-most in team history (the record is 718 by Dick Barnett in 1965-66). With his 30 points Sunday, Stoudemire also became the third player in the last 20 seasons with eight straight 30-point games in team wins, joining Michael Jordan (eight in 1995-96) and Shaquille O’Neal (eight in 2000-01).
Most Points In First 25 Team Games
Perhaps Stoudemire’s greatest impact is on point guard Raymond Felton, who had 19 points and 17 assists in the win Sunday.
With Stoudemire on the floor, Felton is shooting 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range. With Stoudemire out of the game, Felton is shooting just 41 percent from the field and 24 percent on 3-point attempts. Sunday was a rare good day for Felton with Stoudemire out, as he went 3-for-4 from the field when the Knicks big man was in foul trouble.
During this win streak, Felton is averaging 19.6 points and 10.5 assists per game. A quick check of Basketball-Reference.com shows he’s the third Knick to have a 19/17 game in the last 25 years, the first with one since Mark Jackson against the Bulls on April 8, 1988 (Gerald Henderson had the other in 1987). That game was one of 39 double-doubles posted by Jackson that season. Felton now has 11 this season and is on pace to come close to matching that.