Woody: STAT scrimmage 'wonderful sign'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- With Mike Woodson calling it a "wonderful sign," Amar'e Stoudemire returned to scrimmaging once again against the Erie BayHawks on Thursday.

The plan was for Stoudemire to go through practice on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday and then resume work Thursday, which he was able to do during an hour-and-a-half full-court game.

"I'm excited, absolutely," Tyson Chandler, who was watching his teammate from afar, said afterward. "Amar'e's a very explosive player, one of the great players in the pick-and-roll, so it's exciting to be able to have that punch come back."

During the scrimmage against the BayHawks, featuring former Knicks preseason players Henry Sims, Oscar Bellfield and Mychel Thompson, his team fed Stoudemire nearly every time in the post -- and he showed off some bank shots after quick foot fakes and strong spin moves that led to a finish or foul call.

Stoudemire's hard cuts, with his surgically-repaired left knee, were definitely a promising sign. In addition, he had a thunderous one-handed dunk off a pick-and-roll with James White. On the other end, STAT played aggressively and was very vocal with his teammates, helping them out reading coverages. Defense is where the Knicks need him to most improve. When he was wrapped up, he spoke positively about his performance.

"I feel better than I did two days ago," he said. "I hope I feel better tomorrow and two days from now. I’m going to continue to try to improve and get to 100 percent. I’m still working towards that."

He said he's on pace "to return back to dominance." Woodson was asked if the power forward could return on Sunday against the Timberwolves, and he said, "I doubt that very seriously."

Whenever he does, it's clear with the way the Knicks have been playing, with guys buying into specific roles and excelling, Stoudemire is going to have to make sacrifices. Some of his teammates say he needs to focus more on defense and rebounding, not necessarily scoring 20-plus points as he did in the past. Chandler filled in ESPNNewYork.com more about the importance of role play.

"It's very important because everybody has a role, and the thing is, you have to understand that," he said. "It doesn't mean you have to be a robot out there, but it means that you bring what you bring to this team every single night. Good teams have that; bad teams don't understand that. That's what separates good from bad in this league."

SHUMP ALERT: In other positive news, Iman Shumpert went through his first day of extensive conditioning, mostly on the offensive end, shooting the ball and going through drills. But he didn't experience contact or scrimmage. Woodson said he's not sure when that will happen.

"This is the first step today to get him on the floor and get some really good conditioning work in, so we'll see from there," he said. "But he's still a little ways away."

In addition, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace, who both have sore left feet, are still day-to-day. Steve Novak (flu-like symptoms) also didn't practice, and Woodson wasn't sure about his return on Friday against the Bulls.

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