Stoudemire keeps cool head
Rookie ignores hard foul and fall in 4th quarter
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 12, 2003 12:00 AM
Amare Stoudemire was midway through his free fall when Stephon Marbury began a mad dash in his direction as though he wanted to catch his rookie forward before impact.
Marbury didn't make it.
Stoudemire hit the America West Arena floor Friday night as though he had been dropped from the top of the backboard. Marbury, Shawn Marion and a crowd of other Suns gathered around Stoudemire as though they had just witnessed an accident.
Or maybe they were trying to prevent one.
Golden State forward Antawn Jamison had just grabbed Stoudemire's elbow in midair and sent him crashing onto crashing onto his back.
Lesser moments have caused brawls.
"I got over there and talked to him, cause I didn't want him to do something stupid," Marbury said.
Stoudemire has done a lot of things in his brilliant rookie season. Stupid isn't one of them.
"Really, I think maybe we were more mad about what happened than he was," Marion said.
As it turned out, Stoudemire wasn't mad.
"Oh, I gave Jamison a look," said Stoudemire, who said that the foul, although flagrant, was inadvertent. "That's all it was. I think they saw that and thought it was something else. It wasn't."
With 2:11 left, Stoudemire got even by sinking subsequent free-throw attempts for a 15-point lead that put a lock on the Suns' eventual 117-101 victory over Golden State.
"I guess I went up kind of strong," Stoudemire said. "He tried to block the shot. He kind of pushed on my elbow. But I don't think it was on purpose. That's why I kind of kept composed.
"If I had thought it was on purpose, then Coach probably would have had to calm me down a little bit."
Above all, Marbury wanted to make sure that a Stoudemire response wouldn't result in some kind of suspension that would have hurt the Suns' chances at finally clinching a playoff spot.
One more victory will do it. That's the key. That's also something that the 20-year-old Stoudemire hasn't forgotten in a late-season rush full of pressures that crush older veterans.
"It's just playing each game with the playoffs in mind," Stoudemire said. "The older guys have kept telling us that. It's what we're here for."
Stoudemire's late-game poise was probably summed up by his reaction to all the noise that echoed off his long fall.
But there was more. A lot more.
He had 14 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter of a game in which he also had 10 rebounds for his 25th double-double.
Stoudemire's role against the Warriors was almost matched by another young player, second-year guard Joe Johnson
, who came off the bench for 20 points. He's averaging 19 over the past three games.
"We have young guys, and a lot of time those are the guys who might be playing around when we're going over stuff on the sidelines," Suns coach Frank Johnson
"But these guys aren't playing around. They're doing a good job of staying in the moment."
And a better job of staying in the game.
I have to admit that Jamison has now become one of my least favorite players. He fouled Amare hard and then tried to get in his face. This type of boorish behavior is a reason why many sports fans I encounter hate the NBA.
I hope Amare tears up the Warriors the next time we play them. Amare handled the situation like a man, as he didn't back down, but he didn't go out of control. And Amare made a couple of plays after that and he seemed to step up his game a little which is a good sign.