(AP) — Blake Griffin made his first meeting with the New York Knicks a memorable one, but Amare Stoudemire was a big reason the Los Angeles Clippers still lost.
Stoudemire will try to help the Knicks sweep the season series from Griffin and the sputtering Clippers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Griffin couldn’t be blamed as the Clippers fell 124-115 to the Knicks on Nov. 20 in Los Angeles. The rookie big man scored 44 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and dished out seven assists. That included a towering, highlight-reel dunk over New York’s 7-foot-1 center Timofey Mozgov.
Still, Los Angeles lost its third straight in the series, as Stoudemire had 39 points and 11 boards for the Knicks.
Stoudemire is entering this meeting in impressive fashion. The All-Star made 17 of 21 shots to match a season high with 41 points while adding seven rebounds and four blocks in Sunday’s 117-103 win over Philadelphia for a split of the home-and-home set.
Stoudemire is second in the NBA with 26.3 points per game, and leads the team with 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks.
“He understands the big moment and the stage,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That’s why he came to New York.”
The Knicks have won eight of the last 11 at MSG, averaging 108.3 points while Stoudemire is contributing 28.4 points, 8.0 boards and 2.8 blocks.
Griffin leads all rookies with 22.9 points per game and his 12.8 rebounds are good for fourth in the league overall. He wasn’t nearly as effective offensively Tuesday, making 4 of 12 shots for 10 points while adding 12 rebounds in a 101-85 loss at Orlando.
With Griffin providing a powerful scoring threat, opponents are playing him tighter and limiting any easy chances.
“Anytime a team doubles quick like that, you have to swing the ball and just let your teammates hit shots,” Griffin said Tuesday after Los Angeles shot 39.2 percent. “We didn’t hit shots as a team. That hurt … Once they were up, they kind of never let up.”
The Clippers (19-32) are trying to avoid a five-game slide, their longest since the loss to the Knicks gave them a season-high nine in a row.
Baron Davis scored 25 points against the Magic, and will try to build on that as Los Angeles continues to be without guard Eric Gordon (wrist), the team’s leader with 24.1 points per game.
New York (26-24) hopes Landry Fields, who had a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds Sunday, can follow that up. The Long Beach, Calif., native is third among rookies with an average of 10.2 points, but he was held to seven on 2-for-7 shooting against Los Angeles in November.
However, that was also when Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari enjoyed arguably his finest game of the season. Gallinari was 13-of-13 from the free-throw line en route to scoring 31 points with four steals – both season highs.
He’s averaging 16.4 points at home this season, and New York is 8-4 at MSG when he scores at least 16.
Updated February 9, 2011