STAT's minutes increased to 25-30

Amar'e Stoudemire has cleared another hurdle in his attempt to come back from left knee surgery.

Stoudemire's minutes limit has been increased to 25-30 per game, Mike Woodson said on Sunday.

Earlier in the week, Stoudemire's minutes had been capped at 20-23 by the Knicks' medical staff. Team doctors issued that edict after Stoudemire experienced soreness in his surgically repaired left knee following a season-high 28 minutes against Boston on Monday. So the latest development is a positive for Stoudemire.

The Knicks play just two games in the next eight days, which undoubtedly factors into Stoudemire's minutes increase. Stoudemire played in his first back-to-back earlier this week against Indiana and Chicago. Afterward, he said he felt like he was making improvements on a game-to-game basis on the defensive end.

“My improvement is where I’m keying in on defensively,” said Stoudemire, who is playing an average of 20.5 minutes per game in his first six games. “I'm playing much better defense than I did in the past. I feel like I’m improving each game defensively. That’s my goal. I watch film every night to improve defensively, and that’s what I've been doing.”

Stoudemire is averaging nine points on 43 percent shooting in six games and pulling down three rebounds since coming back from an Oct. 31 debridement on his left knee. He will continue to come off the bench for the time being, Woodson said.

Woodson has said he wouldn't consider inserting Stoudemire into the starting lineup until his minutes are no longer restricted. When asked about the possibility of starting Stoudemire on Sunday, Woodson was evasive.

"Again, we're just going to gradually play him and see how things go and [Sunday] he'll come off the bench," the coach said.

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