Though the Knicks are still mathematically alive, there's something about Carmelo & Co. that says this series is already over, writes Stephen A. Smith. Story
Stoudemire participated in offensive drills, ran full-court and did some shooting during and after practice.
Interim coach Mike Woodson is optimistic that Stoudemire will take the floor Sunday. The Heat lead the best-of-seven series 3-0.
"He looked pretty good out here on the floor," Woodson said. "But again, it's not my decision. It's going to be the doctor's and his decision."
Stoudemire, who was not available for comment Saturday, suffered lacerations to his left hand when he hit the glass casing of a fire extinguisher at America Airlines Arena in Miami after the Knicks' Game 2 loss.
He needed stitches to close the wound and underwent a surgical procedure Tuesday to repair what the Knicks called a "small muscle" in his hand. Stoudemire tweeted a photo of his stitched hand Friday.
Earlier Friday, he picked up a basketball for the first time since suffering the injury, running full-court drills with Jeremy Lin, Toney Douglas and assistant coach Kenny Atkinson.
Stoudemire said Friday that his status remained doubtful for Game 4. But he hoped that if he made it through practice Saturday and pregame warmups Sunday, he would be able to suit up.
Woodson said Stoudemire was able to do everything the Knicks asked of him Saturday. He played with his left hand bandaged, but without the outer wrap that he wore Friday.
"We just just have to wait tomorrow and see what happens," Woodson said.
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It's unclear how effective Stoudemire can be with his left hand bandaged. Tyson Chandler said the nine-year veteran "looked OK" in practice.
"I didn't see him grimace or anything like that catching passes. But at the end of the day, I don't know how it's going to react," Chandler said.
Woodson hasn't decided if he will insert Stoudemire into the starting lineup if he plays.
Many observers believe the Knicks would be better off bringing Stoudemire off the bench because he and Carmelo Anthony have struggled to share the floor.
"I'll talk to him at that particular time and just see where we are and I'll gauge it from there," Woodson said.
If Stoudemire doesn't play, the Knicks might start J.R. Smith ahead of Steve Novak.
Novak started at small forward in Game 3 as Anthony, normally the starter there, moved to power forward in place of Stoudemire.
But moving Novak into the starting lineup did not have the desired effect. Instead of forcing Miami to extend its defense by hitting perimeter shots, Novak finished the game 0 for 2 in 22 minutes as the Heat marked him closely all night.
"There's a chance J.R. could start so we could have some kind of offensive firepower. I have to make that decision based on Amare," Woodson said.
If Stoudemire plays and starts, the Knicks likely will go with an opening lineup of Baron Davis at point guard, Landry Fields at shooting guard, Anthony at small forward, Stoudemire at power forward and Chandler at center.
Some have wondered how the Madison Square Garden crowd will react to Stoudemire if he plays on Sunday, considering this is the second straight postseason in which he's suffered a self-inflicted wound.
Last year, he hurt his back during a trick dunk attempt before Game 2 of the Knicks' first-round series against Boston and was limited by the injury.
"They should be supportive," Woodson said. "Amare, has been, I think pretty solid all year. Hey, it was bad judgement on his part in what he's done but he's in a New York uniform. He's a big part of what we do.
"I love Amare and these fans, they know he made a mistake but they'll be in his corner, I think."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.