GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Amar'e Stoudemire missed the Knicks' first two preseason games because of a bone bruise in his left knee, but he said he "absolutely" will play in their next one Friday.
Building cohesion and staying healthy are what Stoudemire hopes to get out of the Knicks' remaining four warm-ups.
"There's not really much to accomplish in the preseason except for creating that chemistry and getting into more of a good flow and just try and become sharper and sharper on both ends of the court," Stoudemire said after practice Monday. "We want to get through this preseason without injury and get ready to start the season off in good shape."
Stoudemire's return is a step in the right direction. J.R. Smith also returned to practice Monday after a sore left ankle caused him to sit out Saturday's 98-95 overtime win over the Celtics.
Stoudemire had been sidelined since hurting his knee in practice Wednesday. He said his legs were heavy and he was a little winded Monday, but he got through all of practice.
His knee and an ankle injury forced him to miss several days during the first two weeks of camp. Chemistry will be such a critical factor in how well the Knicks do this season, and with Stoudemire being such an integral part of everything they do, they hope he can stay off the trainer's table and on the floor as they continue to work toward their Nov. 1 opener at Brooklyn.
"It's very important," coach Mike Woodson said. "Not just the offense but defensively, too, in terms of knowing rotations, knowing where to be when you're out there defensively. It's both sides of the ball."
Stoudemire agreed. "We still understand the plays and what the offensive strategy is," he said. "Defensively, going through repetitions always is great. Being out there with the guys and being able to go through certain coverages feels great. The more and more I do it, the more comfortable I get."
Although he already has chemistry with his new (old) point guard Raymond Felton from their time with the Knicks in the 2010-11 season, Stoudemire still needs to mesh his talents with Carmelo Anthony and work on his offensive game.
It's clear from the first two preseason games that the Knicks still will run some pick-and-rolls, which is Stoudemire's forte. But he also spent a few weeks working with Hakeem Olajuwon on post moves. It's a work in progress.
Woodson said the Knicks will scrimmage much more now in preparation for the regular season. If Stoudemire can stay healthy, he should get some much-needed reps to further develop his post game.
"I was able to work on a few moves down there, just to kind of get a feel back," Stoudemire said. "I've been out of practice the past four, five days. It takes a few days to get back in top shape, but I'll be ready to go."
Notes & quotes: Steve Novak didn't practice. Woodson said Novak was "fatigued" after playing 38 minutes Saturday.. . . Marcus Camby (strained calf) and Rasheed Wallace, who continues to do conditioning work on the side, also didn't practice . . . Woodson said Ronnie Brewer "is getting close." Brewer had his left knee scoped Sept. 7 and is aiming to be ready for the regular-season opener . . . Monday's practice aired live on NBA TV's Real Training Camp and Knicks legend Patrick Ewing co-hosted the broadcast.