- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Linsanity brought a little levity to Amare Stoudemire during a difficult time.
The New York Knicks forward returned to practice Monday following a seven-day absence due to the death of a sibling. He will return to the floor on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors. During his time away from the team, Stoudemire said he watched Jeremy Lin's star rise over a remarkable four-game stretch and that it helped take his mind away from losing his older brother, Hazell.
"The only positive for us during that whole week was we were watching the basketball games and we were watching Linsanity," Stoudemire said following practice on Monday. "My family was getting a kick out of it. That's the only smiles they really had all week. It was great to see that. It's been a tough week."
Stoudemire has missed the past four games. He was in Florida after his older brother died in a car crash Feb. 6. He attended his brother's funeral Saturday and said Monday that it was "good" to get back to the court.
"It's great to see the team is playing well. That's a positive for me right now. The team is doing a phenomenal job," Stoudemire said. "Just couldn't wait to get back and join this and continue the success. Other than that, that's the only positive right now."
The Knicks (13-15) have won five straight on the strength of stellar point guard play from Lin, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 assists and 2.0 steals. New York also could be close to full strength soon -- the team posted on its Twitter account that Carmelo Anthony should be back "toward end of week." He has missed the past three games with a groin injury.
Stoudemire said he is enthused about the opportunity to play with Lin. The former Harvard star has energized the Knicks, providing steady play at the point that had been missing from the team for the first six weeks. Many think Stoudemire will benefit the most from Lin's emergence.
Lin runs the pick-and-roll efficiently and Stoudemire is widely considered one of the top pick-and-roll big men in the NBA.
"Yeah, I do see it. I think it's something special now we're building on," said Stoudemire, who is averaging 18 points while shooting 44 percent from the field.
He's optimistic that with Lin running the offense, he will have more easy scoring opportunities.
"Lin is finding guys out there. He's playing totally unselfish. He's taking what the defense gives him. He's studying, which is what you want from your point guard, a guy who wants to be that facilitator and get guys involved and get guys open shots. He's passing the ball right on the numbers where guys can catch and shoot. That brings up high-percentage shooting," Stoudemire said, adding, "This is what we've been talking about all year. It's finally happened."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
9hMatt Walks, ESPN.com