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Mike Woodson to keep Amar'e Stoudemire playing about 23 minutes

Amar'e Stoudemire adjusts his goggles during a game

Amar'e Stoudemire adjusts his goggles during a game against the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 13, 2014) Credit: Jim McIsaac

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Amar'e Stoudemire already has played more games than all of last season, and he continues to play well.

Wednesday night was his 32nd game, three more than 2012-13 when two knee surgeries derailed Stoudemire. He had another procedure over the summer, but he's played more than expected when the season started and he's probably been more effective than expected.

The Knicks had dead legs Wednesday night and got a second-half lift from Stoudemire. It wasn't enough, but he scored 17 points and had a rousing one-handed slam late in the third quarter of the Knicks' 108-98 loss to the Bobcats.

"It's great to see him night in and night out," Carmelo Anthony said. "Going from one extreme where they didn't even expect him to play back-to-backs, and now he's playing major minutes and back-to-backs and he's producing at a high level out there. We just want to keep that going."

Stoudemire is averaging 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in 22.4 minutes off the bench this month. Woodson said he could use Stoudemire finishing games more, but it depends on how he plays and his minutes.

"We haven't really burned him in terms of big-time minutes," Woodson said. "Now he's at about 22-23 minutes. My thinking is if he can stay in that neighborhood the rest of the way out, we should be pretty good with it.

"If he's playing well he's going to stay in there based on how he's moving and playing."

This completed a back-to-back. The Knicks are off Wednesday and have another back-to-back Thursday in Indiana and Friday at home against the Clippers. Woodson said he would leave it up to Stoudemire whether he plays both nights.

Heart of the matter

First-year Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said he's feeling much better after having two stents placed in his heart when the Knicks played in Charlotte on Nov. 8.

"It was scary," said Clifford, a former Knicks assistant and Adelphi University coach. "But I'm good. I have no permanent heart disease or anything. I have no restrictions. Just trying to eat better, sleep a little more. Everything's good."

While Clifford rested in the hospital, Patrick Ewing coached the Bobcats that night. The Knicks won 101-91.

"I watched it," Clifford said. "I didn't have anything else to do at the time. I watched it. It wasn't that great."

K-Mart gets breather

Tyson Chandler's return last nightTuesday night after missing four games with bronchitis should lighten Kenyon Martin's minutes. Woodson said he could give Martin, who started at center in Chandler's absence, a night off.

"I would give him one, absolutely," Woodson said. "But knowing Kenyon, these guys don't want any break. We might consider that in this stretch."

Fast breaks

Pablo Prigioni (fractured big toe) worked out on the court before the game and will do more todayWednesday. There's an outside shot he can return this week, but next week seems more likely . . . Carmelo Anthony recorded his 14th double-figure point and rebound game in Monday's win over Phoenix. He had 11 all of last season . . . The Knicks' 98-96 win Monday was their first in games decided by three points or fewer. They were 0-5.

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