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Stoudemire looks rusty in return. What did you expect?

Jan 2, 2013, 8:41 AM EDT

Amar’e Stoudemire was back with the Knicks on New Year’s Day, welcomed by a standing ovation from the Madison Square Garden faithful.

Then he went out and looked like a guy who missed training camp and the first third of the season following knee surgery. There were flashes — a block in the paint, a baseline cut for a dunk off a J.R. Smith pass — but mostly Stoudemire looked rusty, like a guy where the game was just moving really fast for him during the Knicks loss.

Stoudemire finished 3-of-8 shooting and was a -9 on the floor because LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson outplayed him (Hickson has outplayed a lot of people this season while you weren’t watching). It wasn’t an impressive performance for STAT, who played just shy of 17 minutes off the bench.

But what did you expect?

It’s going to take a few games for him to get his conditioning back, his feel for the game back, for him to adjust to a new role off the bench. Like the video above shows there were flashes. Give him a chance to see if he can start to do that regularly. And wait for Raymond Felton to get back next month from a broken finger — Stoudemire and Felton had good pick-and-roll chemistry before.

And here’s a stat to watch going forward — lineups with Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Stoudemire on the floor together were +2 in five minutes on the court. That one night and small sample size is meaningless, but that is the combo Mike D’Antoni could not get to work together and Mike Woodson needs to if the Knicks are going to be the real elite threat in the East they played like early on.

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