MILWAUKEE - Iman Shumpert went through shootaround and a pregame workout Monday. He wanted to make sure he could fight through screens and not feel too much pain in his right shoulder.
That's how he sprained it in the first place, coming off a screen by burly Boston forward Jared Sullinger last week. Shumpert missed two games, and the Knicks missed his defense Saturday night against the Heat.
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"It was tough,'' Shumpert said. "I felt like we had enough. We turned the ball over a couple of times down the stretch, and we don't normally do that. I feel like we still could have pulled that one out.''
Shumpert was back in the starting lineup Monday night against the Bucks, and J.R. Smith returned to his usual role of coming off the bench.
The turnovers hurt the Knicks against the Heat, but their defense -- or lack thereof -- against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did, too. The two totaled 52 points and 23-for-37 shooting in the Heat's 15-point win.
Shumpert, the Knicks' best perimeter defender, would have been assigned to one of the Heat's stars. He might not have shut his man down, but he might have made things a little more difficult.
"I wish I could be out there helping always, not just defensively,'' Shumpert said.
Shumpert's season has somewhat mirrored the Knicks': inconsistent and disappointing. He's looked really good some nights and looked as if he were going through the motions on others.
But until he hurt his shoulder, Mike Woodson was able to count on him to play every game this season, which is a rarity for this team.
Shumpert, who missed the first 37 games last season while rehabbing from knee surgery, had played in every game this season before hurting his shoulder. Every other veteran has missed at least three, and six have been sidelined at least 13 games.
"I wanted to tough it out,'' Shumpert said. "But if I'm no good to help my teammates, it's no point.''
Shumpert said he tried to play through it in the Boston game but couldn't.
"I didn't know what it was,'' he said. "I just know I wasn't able to lift my arm like I wanted to. A couple of times I dialed it back and I finally got an open shot and I shot it and I wasn't able to hold my follow-through, so I was like, 'let me sit it down.' ''
The Knicks have tried to trade Shumpert this season as they believe rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. is their shooting guard of the future. But he's not the defensive player Shumpert is. So the Knicks could have a tough decision to make as the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches.
Shumpert remains one of their more valuable trade chips because he's young and versatile, but his defense will be key if the Knicks make the playoffs.
The Knicks have other pieces that could be attractive, such as Beno Udrih, who is on an expiring contract, and Metta World Peace, who has a $1.6- million player option for next season.
Ideally, the Knicks would like to acquire someone who can help them make a push this season but who complements Carmelo Anthony, who will be a free agent this summer.
"It's been a lot of ups and downs with our roster and team this season,'' Woodson said. "We're still in the hunt, still got a shot. That's how I look at it. We're getting guys back again and we just got to hope to keep them and try to develop some kind of rhythm and chemistry with the guys once they come back.''