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Knicks' Stoudemire: Unsure of playoffs

NEW YORK (AP) - Amare Stoudemire said Thursday his recovery from right knee surgery is going ``a little bit ahead of schedule,'' though he isn't sure if he can return to the New York Knicks for the first round of the playoffs.

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Stoudemire had surgery to clean up and remove tissue from the knee about 2 1/2 weeks ago and the Knicks said his expected recovery time would be about six weeks. The playoffs open the weekend of April 20.

``It's going well. Actually going a little bit ahead of schedule right now, so I want to keep that progress going,'' Stoudemire said in a phone interview.

The power forward had the same procedure, called a debridement, on the left knee in late October and returned New Year's Day. He averaged 14.2 points in 29 games as a reserve before getting hurt again.

The Knicks had kept him on a minutes restriction that started in the low 20s and had grown to 30 minutes a night before he was injured. But after Carmelo Anthony was hurt, the Knicks had no choice but to use Stoudemire right to - and even over - that limit. He played 32 minutes on March 4 in Cleveland, the game in which Anthony was injured, and went 31 minutes two nights later in a victory over Detroit, tying his season high with 22 points in each game.

He scored 16 points in a loss to Oklahoma City on March 7 in his final game, playing 29 minutes and even throwing down an impressive dunk over Thunder defensive star Serge Ibaka.

``I don't think it had anything to do with the minutes. I honestly think it was just a matter of time before that was going to happen,'' Stoudemire said.

``I felt a little something come on a few games before that, but I didn't think it was major and I just kept playing on it because we had a few injuries with Carmelo down and Tyson (Chandler) was a little banged up. So I just kept playing and so in that Oklahoma game I felt it even more.''

He had an MRI exam two days later and the Knicks announced that night he would have surgery.

``I was scoring at a high level, I was very efficient, felt like I couldn't be stopped on the court,'' Stoudemire said. ``So to be taken out by injury was very, very frustrating, but I know I have confidence that I can get back to that level.''

Stoudemire's injury and recovery are captured on film in a documentary titled ``Amare Stoudemire: In the Moment'' that will debut on EPIX on April 19. The project had been in the works for a couple of years, showing Stoudemire's family life, business projects and other aspects of his life since he signed a nearly $100 million contract with the Knicks in July 2010.

Once he was hurt, more filming was done to show footage as he rehabs from the surgery.

``It makes it even more of a better story and an interesting ending,'' he said.

So how does it end?

``It ends with my return,'' he said, laughing.

That would be a boost to a team battling for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks haven't had Stoudemire at full strength for either of their first-round exits in the last two years, and even he acknowledges that he's ``injury prone.''

``Absolutely. I've been dealing with injuries the last few years, so you could definitely say I'm injury prone,'' he said. ``But at the same time it's a matter of doing whatever you can to remain healthy as best as possible, so that's my goal right now at hand.''

The Knicks have recovered from a slump to tie their season high with six straight victories. Stoudemire would likely be ready if they reach the second round, but he's hoping he can be back even sooner.

``No guarantee I'll be back for the playoffs,'' he said. ``Hopefully, the way my health is as far the way I take care of my body, I should heal quick so hopefully I'll be ready to go.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
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