NEW YORK (AP) – With Amar’e Stoudemire playing his best basketball of the season, the New York Knicks continue to cruise.
Looking to become the second player in team history with six straight 30-point games, Stoudemire can help the Knicks record their longest winning streak in nearly five years as they host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
New York has won 10 of 11, currently riding its second five-game win streak in three weeks. The Knicks (13-9) last won six consecutive games between Jan. 2-13, 2006.
After scoring 31 points during Sunday’s 116-99 victory over Toronto, Stoudemire had 34 on 15-of-23 shooting in Monday night’s 121-114 win over Minnesota.
“I don’t know if you can play any better than he has the last couple of weeks,” said coach Mike D’Antoni, who also coached Stoudemire in Phoenix.
“His power, strength, now his outside shooting, his choices that he’s making, just seems like it’s easy.”
Stoudemire is averaging 34.2 points and 11.0 rebounds over New York’s five-game run, becoming the first Knick to record five consecutive 30-point performances since Stephon Marbury from Feb. 4-11, 2005. The only Knicks player to record a longer such streak was Willie Naulls’ franchise-record run of seven straight from Feb. 22-March 4, 1962.
“This was the plan,” Stoudemire said. “The plan was to have success.”
Raymond Felton, whose signing with New York in the offseason was overshadowed by Stoudemire’s five-year contract worth nearly $100 million, connected on 5 of 8 from 3-point range en route to 18 points versus the Timberwolves. He also had 11 assists to post his fourth double-double in five games and ninth of the season.
The fifth overall pick from the 2005 draft is averaging 20.9 points, 9.7 assists and 2.8 steals in his last 10 contests.
“When we pick up the tempo on our defense, that’s when we’re really a good team,” Felton said. “So we’ve got to keep it going, just got to continue to get better, not be complacent and try to keep this thing rolling.”
The Knicks, who rank among the NBA’s highest-scoring teams with an average of 107.7 points, have outscored opponents by 10.4 points during their five consecutive wins.
Meanwhile, the Raptors (8-13) are coming off their worst loss of the season, falling to Indiana 124-100 on Monday night.
After allowing 60 points over the first 24 minutes in their loss to the Knicks on Sunday, Toronto surrendered a season-high 68 in the first half versus the Pacers.
“We have to come with more energy,” said Andrea Bargnani, held to 12 points. “We have to come more prepared, especially in the first and second quarters. It seems like we are just watching the other team play and we are doing nothing.”
Bargnani was averaging 21.9 points through his first 15 games but has been limited to 16.2 over his last six. He’s 1 for 18 from 3-point range in that span as Toronto has gone 2-4.
The 7-footer was held to two points on 1-of-9 shooting in his last visit to MSG, but Toronto won 106-104 on Jan. 28 for its third straight road victory over the Knicks.
The Raptors, though, have lost at home in both meetings with New York this season after sweeping all four in 2009-10.
Peja Stojakovic, averaging 20.8 points at MSG over his career, missed his fifth straight game Monday with a knee injury and his status is unknown.
The Raptors have struggled defensively on the road, allowing 108.5 points – among the worst in the league – compared to 99.5 at home.
w1 © 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.