Practice report: STAT back, Novak rests

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Amar'e Stoudemire returned to 5-on-5 contact drills on Monday, after missing action since Wednesday when he banged with Chris Copeland during practice and suffered a bruised left knee.

In addition, J.R. Smith returned after resting a sore left ankle for a couple of days.

"I thought they looked okay," Mike Woodson said after practice, which was televised live on NBA TV. "A little rusty in terms of their wind, running up and down, but that'll come. The way we practice every day, we get a lot of running at the top, so that would definitely zap you before you get to the scrimmage part."

Stoudemire said he was excited to scrimmage again to further develop chemistry with his teammates, especially Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. "It's going to be a phenomenal year," Stoudemire said. "I mean, those guys are very, very great at creating offense. Having those floor generals out there, with the lineup that we have and the guys we have coming off the bench, we've got a pretty solid team."

The power forward showed off a few "jewels," as he calls his new post-up moves, but Woodson will incorporate more of that in the next few days when the Knicks intensify their scrimmaging with referees on-hand. STAT said a down-low presence will further balance out the offense.

"It's going to be very important," he said. "I think we've got an opportunity where we can take advantage of our post play. We have such great perimeter players, great shooters on the wing, so if we can establish a back-to-the-basket game to get some easy baskets in the paint, that's another element to our offense."

THE SCOOP ON SHEED: Rasheed Wallace increased his conditioning on Monday, doing more running baseline to baseline. There's still no timetable on his return, and Woodson wasn't definite about him being ready by Nov. 1.

"Rasheed's doing fine," Woody said. "He's starting to pick it up a little bit more in terms of getting up and down the floor with his conditioning work. It's just a matter of time before we get him back."

SIDELINE NOTES: Steve Novak missed his first day of practice, but not because of injury. Woodson simply gave him the day off to rest, after the sharpshooter played additional minutes against the Wizards (32) and Celtics (38).

In addition, Marcus Camby (left calf strain) and Ronnie Brewer (left medial meniscus recovery) remained inactive. Woodson said he would consult with the Knicks' training staff after practice to find out where they both stood, but he did offer a good prognosis with Brewer, who's penciled in as the starting shooting guard for opening night.

"Ronnie's getting close, that's all I can tell you," the coach said.

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