Knicks give Amar'e Stoudemire night off in preparation for stretch run

Amar'e Stoudemire looks up from the baseline after Amar'e Stoudemire looks up from the baseline after checking out of a game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 28, 2014 in Phoenix. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Christian Petersen

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SALT LAKE CITY - The Knicks hope to have Amar'e Stoudemire as strong as possible for the stretch run and the playoffs -- if they make it -- so they decided to give him Monday night off.

Although the game against Utah was critical for the Knicks in their postseason chase, Stoudemire rested with what he called "a maintenance and recovery day."

Mike Woodson said Stoudemire's knee was "a little sore and needed to back off." But Stoudemire contradicted that, saying it was talked about before this five-game trip that he would sit out this game and "a collective decision" was made. This was the Knicks' fifth game in seven nights and the conclusion of a back-to-back.

"I feel pretty good," Stoudemire said before the Knicks' 92-83 win over Utah. "We just want to make sure that it's still strong for next month. It's tough. It's not easy to sit out these type of games. But we got a tough schedule coming up next month with some very important teams. I want to make sure I'm at full strength."

Stoudemire, who has played well since becoming a starter March 3, had 15 points and a season-high 13 rebounds in the Knicks' win over the Warriors on Sunday.

He said he plans to play the final seven games, starting with Wednesday night's against the Nets.

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The Knicks don't play another back-to-back until the last two games of the season.

"It's just maintenance," Woodson said. "We just got to protect him and get him ready for Brooklyn.''

Carmelo's hand OK

Carmelo Anthony injured his left hand in the third quarter Sunday and had X-rays after the game that came back negative. He hda 34 points and eight rebounds against the Jazz.

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