After a much needed day off on Sunday, the Knicks returned to MSG Training Center on Monday and welcomed back two essential members of the roster. Amar’e Stoudemire practiced for the first time since suffering a bruised left knee in a collision with teammate Chris Copeland. J.R. Smith also returned after he was sidelined in Saturday’s preseason game against Boston with a sore ankle.
Stoudemire jumped right back into action as the team practiced and scrimmaged in front of the live NBATV cameras.
“Feels good. My legs were a little heavy today, I was trying to find my wind but I feel great to be back out there,” the Knicks power forward explained.
With four days to prepare for the Toronto Raptors, Stoudemire will attempt to regain offensive chemistry and establish a flow on both sides of the floor before the third preseason outing. Stoudemire told reporters on multiple occasions that he would have played if the Knicks were in the regular season. The big man does not expect any issues in his return and will look to take advantage of the practice time this week.
“I still understand the plays and read the playbook everyday to understand what the offensive strategy is,” Stoudemire stated. “Defensively, going through the repetitions is always great, so getting back out there with the guys, going over certain coverages feels great. The more and more I do it, the more comfortable we will be at it.”
Smith was held out for precautionary reasons as well on Saturday night in Hartford. The shooting guard reacted to his return to the floor, “I’m good, starting to feel better. I’m just taking it day-by-day to get back.”
While watching Smith on the sidelines during the Knicks overtime victory against Boston, he could barely contain himself while the team battled its Atlantic Division rival. “I guess it was the Boston-New York crowd, whatever it is with the rivalry. But it was fun, both benches were into it. We hate losing to them as much as they hate losing to us, whether it’s preseason, pick-up, or whatever it is. It was fun.”
Steve Novak sat out Monday’s practice to rest after he logged 38 minutes on Saturday and 32 minutes in the first preseason win over Washington.
The team will head to the Knicks Tip-Off event tonight at the Beacon Theatre. Watch the live stream at 6:45 PM on NYKnicks.com.