Throughout the Knicks’ surprising start this season, there remained a familiar puzzle piece still anchored to the bench, along with his $99.7 million contract and All-Star résumé.
But the return on Tuesday of that piece, Amar’e Stoudemire, his first action since knee surgery in October, was greeted with a cautious optimism. The Knicks were 21-9 without Stoudemire, playing a delicate balance of basketball, fastened by experience, defense and the inspired play of Carmelo Anthony.
Now, starting a new year, it seems as if the Knicks are beginning a new season. The Stoudemire experiment got off to a rocky start at Madison Square Garden as the Knicks lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 105-100. It was their third defeat in four games.