NEW YORK -- It's an image Knicks fans don't want to remember: Amare Stoudemire laying on his stomach on the court by the Knicks' bench during Game 2 of the their first-round matchup against the Celtics last April.
Stoudemire missed the second half of that game and the Knicks went on to lose, 96-93, going down 0-2 in the series. Eventually the Knicks would get swept, during which it was determined that Stoudemire had pulled a muscle in his back. It was an injury that needed the 2011 offseason to fully heal.
Saturday night against the Pistons, nearly a year later, Knicks fans held a collective breath when Stoudemire didn't play at all in the fourth quarter. And there was more to it than the Knicks building a blowout victory.
With 3:42 remaining in the third quarter, he went over to Mike Woodson and told him he was experiencing some stiffness in his lower back. After the game, that didn't sit very well with the head coach.
"I am concerned about Amare," Woodson said. "But we'll evaluate it, see how he feels tomorrow and hopefully we continue to have some blowouts so guys can rest."
Stoudemire said that kind of stiffness was rare for him during the season, but he was feeling better after postgame treatment. He credited the Knicks' training staff for "keeping it nice and loose," and was not too concerned about it looking ahead.
Woodson, however, sounded more cautious about the situation. With 17 games remaining in a compressed schedule, with not a lot of rest time, that's a big reason why.
"I don't know how bad it is until he's evaluated," Woodson said. "I'm sure if it was a close game, he probably would've come back and played. But tomorrow will be a different day. We'll see how he feels tomorrow and go from there."
STAT wasn't the only one who was aching up. Just a couple of minutes before he removed himself from the game, Jeremy Lin was subbed out because he was feeling soreness in his left knee. Lin said it was due to "overuse." He did play more minutes than usual up to that point, including a longer stretch in the first quarter before Baron Davis checked into the game.
But Lin said he's "good to go." Woodson even commented that Lin was able to play in the final period, but he didn't need his starting point guard because the Knicks had built a comfortable double-digit lead.
On the season, while Stoudemire has only missed two games due to an injury (a sprained left ankle suffered at the start of the season), Lin has not missed a beat since his sudden rise that started on Feb. 4.
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