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Injury updates to come on Stoudemire, Billups

Amar'e Stoudemire struggling with his back against the

Amar'e Stoudemire struggling with his back against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter. (April 19, 2011) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Knicks did not hold practice today, but the team was awaiting word on the status of two of its most important players for Friday's Game 3 against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden.

Newsday has learned that along with point guard Chauncey Billups (left knee strain), all-star Amar'e Stoudemire will also undergo an MRI test Wednesday on his lower back.

Both MRI tests are considered precautionary. In Billups' case, it will allow the medical staff to see if there is any structural damage to his knee, which buckled late in Game 1. At this point, it has been diagnosed as a strain, which involves a muscle and/or tendon around the knee. The fear is that the test may show something worse, such as cartilage damage, which could sideline Billups for the rest of the playoffs.

Stoudemire experienced painful spasms in his lower back in the first half of Tuesday's Game 2 loss in Boston. He said he first felt a problem when he attempted a highlight film-type dunk in warmups before the game, which isn't something you want to hear from your star player.

"I touched the top of the glass with my left hand and dunked it with my right," he said. "I think that's when I felt it get tight on me."

During the game, Stoudemire said he "could hardly move" and "couldn't get quite totally lose." By the second quarter it had become "a sharp pain and I couldn't continue."

It was bothering him so much after the game that when he addressed the media in the conference room, he stood in front of the dais with a microphone in hand rather than sit on the stage.

One of the NBA's most fittest players, Stoudemire said he has never experienced back spasms before so he had no idea what to expect over the next few days.

"Hopefully," he said, "I'll be ready to go by Friday."

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