The Knicks finally got some good news on the injury front.
After feeling "a pop" in his surgically repaired left knee Wednesday night, Iman Shumpert appears to be healthy and is expected to play in Friday night's game at Toronto.
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"He's fine. He's going to be ready to go," coach Mike Woodson said in an interview on ESPN Radio Thursday. "I was just being cautious last night. I saw him grimace after he went in for a layup, and he's coming back from a tough injury."
Shumpert, who suffered a torn ACL and lateral meniscus in the playoffs last season, didn't play in the second half of the Knicks' 106-94 win over Orlando after driving to the rim late in the second quarter and feeling the knee pop. He later said he was scared.
"I took a step to explode and go to the rim and felt it pop," Shumpert said. "Last time I felt a pop, I was out eight months. I was nervous and more scared than anything."
Shumpert's knee did not show any sign of swelling, Woodson said. The Knicks did not have him undergo an X-ray or MRI.
The Knicks, the oldest team in the NBA, have been rocked by injuries. Amar'e Stoudemire (knee), Rasheed Wallace (foot), Tyson Chandler (neck) and Kurt Thomas (foot) are all out, and only Chandler is expected to be back before the end of the regular season. Woodson said Thursday it's possible that his starting center could be back for Tuesday's game in Boston.
Before that game, however, the Knicks have a home-and-home against the Raptors. A win in either game would clinch a playoff berth for the Knicks and give them some momentum before they head into a tough two-week stretch that includes two games against Boston, a home game against Memphis and games at Atlanta, Miami and Oklahoma City.
The Raptors (26-42) are a much tougher out than their record would indicate. Toronto is 2-0 against the Knicks this season. Both defeats came during the Knicks' four-game losing streak a month ago.
The Knicks remain in third place in the East, a game behind the Pacers and a game ahead of the Nets, who will face the Clippers tomorrow night in Los Angeles.
Woodson is well aware of the need to win games against non-playoff teams and beat Toronto this weekend.
"At this particular time, it's important that we really track it," Woodson said when asked how carefully he pays attention to the teams close to the Knicks in the conference standings. "We know everybody that's right below us. I don't follow it early on, but right now we pay careful attention."
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