NEW YORK — As a six-time NBA All-Star, Amar’e Stoudemire confesses winning Sixth Man of the Year honors was never on his mind.
“I never thought about the Sixth Man of the Year ever in my career,” he said after putting up a season-best 21 points as the Knicks routed the Sacramento Kings, 120-81, at MSG. “But it may be a possibility.”
If Stoudemire keeps up this level of play, he may challenge Jamal Crawford of the Clippers and teammate J.R. Smith for consideration for the award.
“For a lot of stars, it’s not acceptable to come off the bench, but for myself it’s simply about winning,” he said. “That’s the ultimate goal for myself, is to win. So whenever you can accept any challenge the coaches give you to win, that’s what I’m totally about.”
Stoudemire posted 21 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the field, the most makes this year by an NBA player without a miss. Stoudemire fell one made field goal shy of the Knicks’ franchise record of 11 set by Johnny Newman in 1988. He has posted double-figures in 10 straight games.
In his last three games, he’s 22-of-27 from the field.
“The game is becoming easier,” he said. “I think with the addition of the post game, everything else is becoming easier. Players are having a hard time figuring how to play me in the post. There’s a few moves that they can’t guard so that allows me to have easy baskets and also my teammates, like Raymond [Felton] and those guys, are finding me in certain areas, so it’s a combination of everything.”
Despite his big numbers, Knicks coach Mike Woodson has no plans to start Stoudemire, which could further his Sixth Man candidacy.
“We’re winning the way we are right now and I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Woodson said.
Since coming back after the New Year from offseason knee surgery, Stoudemire has looked extremely spry and says he feels perfectly healthy.
“I feel great,” he said. “I feel great. I think the way that we’re playing now, I think the way coaches are still being somewhat cautious with my minutes. And I just feel fresh after every game. I feel great.”
Stoudemire,Smith (team-high 25 points), Steve Novak (15) and Kurt Thomas (season-high 11) helped the Knicks bench outscore the Kings’ entire roster, 82-81.
“I feel like we have the best bench in basketball,” Tyson Chandler said. “People will really see it come playoffs and down the stretch.
“Our bench is very deep, especially with Amar’e in the lineup. He has been consistent ever since he has been coming off the bench. He has been scoring and rebounding.”
And perhaps working his way into consideration for an award he never considered.
**For Video, Notes & Quotes on the game, read my NBA.com Notebook here.Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.