By MATT FALKENBURYSpecial to ZAGSBLOG
GREENBURGH, N.Y. —
With the Knicks getting more bad news than good news regarding injuries this season, Wednesday was considered a good day.
One day after making his season debut, Amar’e Stoudemire was back on the practice court working to get back into the flow of the Knicks’ system.
Stoudemire, in his first game since the pre-season, scored six points and played 17 minutes last night in the Knicks’ 105-100 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He struggled throughout the game on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but Wednesday he was happy that he was feeling healthy.
“I feel great today, feel loose, I feel fit, I’m ready to go,” he said ahead of Thursday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs at MSG. “A great sign coming out of the first game. To feel as good as I do now, is definitely a great sign.”
Stoudemire worked during practice on defense with the rest of the team, emphasizing rotations in the half court. He later worked on his shooting with coach Dave Hopla before calling it a day.
He was asked how he felt about his debut and although he was excited about returning to the court, he did acknowledgethat returning from his injury is still a process.
“It was awesome, I was a little bit rusty still,” he said. “But that is to be expected after not playing for nine months. My second half [against the Trail Blazers] was better than my first half and hopefully [Thursday’s] game will be better than the first game, and that process continues.”
Coach Mike Woodson spoke about Stoudemire’s performance and thought that as the game went on he got better.
“I thought early that he struggled, but I thought that as the game went on he started to find his rhythm a little bit and we expected that,” Woodson said. “Eventually he will get where he needs to be”
Carmelo Anthony (coming off his 45-point outburst), Tyson Chandler and, Jason Kidd were not on the floor when the media was allowed in for practice, but Woodson did say they shot and watched video with the team and gave no indication they were to miss any time.
With the Knicks struggling right now, losing five of eight, getting players healthy and ready to go for the rest of the season will be vital.
The focus for the Knicks now is how they can move past this bump in the road and get Stoudemire back to playing at his previous All-Star levels.
Stoudemire’s back and has passed his first hurdle, being pain free and healthy after his first game back. Now, he must be patient to see how long it takes for him to return to the player he hopes to be.
Photo: Getty Images
Follow Matt on TwitterFollow 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.