By MATT FALKENBURY
Special to ZAGSBLOG
GREENBURGH, N.Y. – The next several days will be critical for the Knicks, but whether or not both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony will be able to return to the court on New Year’s Day against the Portland Trail Blazers remains to be seen.
For the first time since having surgery on his left knee before the season started, Stoudemire practiced with the Knicks in the hopes that he could be ready for Tuesday.
After practice, Stoudemire expressed a more wait-and-see approach.
“I felt better today than I did yesterday, so hopefully I get a good reaction out of it tonight and tomorrow, see how it feels, but it’s all predicated on how I feel the following day after a long, hard day after today,” he said. “Practice was really good, I was able to move how I wanted to with a little bit of a restriction, but not much so its definitely an improvement.”
Stoudemire classified himself as less than 80 percent but, with all the injuries the Knicks (21-9) are dealing with following their 1-2 West Coast road swing, he talked about maybe trying to come back before he felt 100 percent.
“Were are pretty banged up as a team, we need bodies on the court right now, so if I gotta sacrifice my health a little bit for the betterment of the team then I will,” he said.
Anthony, who has missed the past two games with a hyperextended knee, did some shooting on the side but did not practice.
He did not speak with the media, and Coach Mike Woodson would not say whether or not ‘Melo would be ready to go on Tuesday.
“Carmelo didn’t have any contact today or any conditioning work up and down yet, he is just day-to-day and we’ll just take a day at a time,” Woodson said.
Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace also were out of practice. Wallace is still considered day-to-day with the stress reaction in his foot. Kidd had a “recuperation day” and is expected to be at practice tomorrow. Chandler had an ankle injury but Woodson has little doubt he would be back at practice tomorrow and play on Tuesday.
Woodson did talk about the anticipation he has to get his team fully healthy again.
“I feel good about the make up of our ball club, but I’m just anxious to get a full team just to see where we are as a ball club,” he said. “That’s the main goal right now, to get everybody healthy to asses our team.”
When Stoudemire is good to go, he may well come off the bench as the sixth man, bolstering a second unit that includes Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni and maybe allace when he returns
Anthony has already missed six games this year with ankle, hand and knee injuries. The Knicks, if they want to remain at the top of the Eastern Conference, obviously need their best player healthy going forward.
With the injury questions to the Knicks top two players remaining unanswered, the practice Monday will be just as important.
The questions about Stoudemire and Anthony now go from whether they can play together to when they will play together again.
The next few days should be interesting.