Commentary

Boos officially welcome Amare to NYC

As losses mount, Knicks' $100 million man finds himself in unfamiliar territory

Updated: November 16, 2010, 10:00 AM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Amare Stoudemire's New York Knicks were down 18 in the fourth quarter, minutes away from their fifth straight loss, when the boos started to rain down on the Garden floor.

Suddenly, Stoudemire was in the midst of his first real "Welcome to New York" moment.

And he didn't like it.

"It's definitely something that I'm not accustomed to. It's not fun," Stoudemire said after the Knicks lost, 104-96, to a Houston Rockets team that came into town with just two wins. "We're a young team and we make mistakes but we can't keep doing the exact same thing every night. We just gotta find a way to grow up."

[+] EnlargeAmare Stoudemire
AP Photo/Kathy KmonicekAmare Stoudemire (left) was booed Sunday for the first time since joining the New York Knicks

Stoudemire, who finished with 25 points and eight rebounds, bemoaned his teammates' lack of urgency and lack of "heart" as they were outscored, 14-4, in the first 6:39 of the fourth.

But Stoudemire also could have and should have pointed the finger at himself.

He came out hot against Houston with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the first half.

He seemed to be trying to make amends for the Knicks' disastrous road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night when they blew a 21-point third-quarter lead and let Kevin Love go for 31 points and 31 rebounds.

Stoudemire took sole responsibility for the misery in Minnesota on Friday.

But on Sunday night, after he shot 3-for-8 in the second half and scored just three points in the fourth quarter, Stoudemire questioned the mental makeup of his young Knicks teammates.

"I don't understand why we're not playing with the urgency. I'm not used to that," the Knicks' $100 million man said. "We're not playing like we're on a four-game losing streak, now five. We don't have that sense of urgency. It's almost as if it doesn't matter and it's not something I'm used to."

He had to know there would be growing pains with this team when it failed to sign another marquee free-agent this summer. But it seemed like he didn't know the pains would be this severe so early in the season.

"We just can't have guys complacent and comfortable with losing," Stoudemire, said with a look of pure frustration on his face. "I can't stand that. It's more attitude. It's more heart. We have to show more heart and go after it."

The Knicks took a 71-70 lead on Raymond Felton's 3-pointer with 5:15 to go in the third. And that's when the trouble started. They went just two-for-10 to end the quarter -- with both shots coming from the offensively-challenged Timofey Mozgov -- and found themselves down nine to a Houston team without Yao Ming or point guard Aaron Brooks entering the fourth.

Included in that disastrous 2-for-10 stretch to close the third were three misses from behind the arc, where the Knicks finished just 3-for-16 overall.

"That's definitely a problem," Mike D'Antoni said.

A bigger problem for Stoudemire was his team's lack of grit in the fourth quarter.

"We're still not having that sense of urgency to dig for loose balls, get down on the floor. We're not showing that we really want it," he said.

"Maybe the winning mentality has never been here," he continued. "I'm used to winning."

Winning is something the Knicks aren't familiar with.

With a four-game West Coast swing starting Tuesday, they're in danger of being irrelevant before Thanksgiving, something Knicks fans have grown accustomed to over the past decade.

But it's not something Stoudemire's accustomed to. He enjoyed two 60-win seasons and three trips to the Western Conference finals with Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.

So the Knicks' 3-7 start is a shock to his system.

"It's a foreign land for me right now," he said.

By the looks of things on Sunday night, it's something Stoudemire should get used to.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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