Amar'e confirms that Game 3 is his goal

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire participated in his first scrimmage since undergoing right knee debridement in March, and he's aiming to return for Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers.

"I have no pain playing, running, jumping, cutting, slashing. I felt explosive," he said Monday.

The scrimmage, which involved him playing 3-on-3 full-court games with his teammates, marked the first time Stoudemire took full contact since the medical procedure. He looked quick and explosive with his low-post moves, and took contact well down low. But his conditioning was down, and that's where he said he needs to improve most.

"Just cardio. I want to get in better shape, and I will," he said. "Once my cardio gets to where I want it and my health feels great and 100 percent, then I'm back out there."

The biggest test this week for Stoudemire will be how he feels on his recovery off days. One of them is Tuesday.

"The only way I wouldn't be [ready for Game 3] is if I don't recover well from today and if I don't recover well from the following practice," he said. "If there's any setback from that, then that would be difficult to deal with. But hopefully everything goes well."

Stoudemire said he wants to play "extremely bad," to the point that it's been "very hard" for him to watch the game from the bench. He said he'll sometimes stay back in the training room to get away from the action and continue his rehab.

The Knicks are hoping that's not the case for much longer, as they'll need his inside scoring and rebounding to help counter the Pacers' size. In the Knicks' Game 1 loss, they were outscored in the paint 46-32 and got outrebounded by 14. When Stoudemire returns, he said he'll have the same role off the bench as he did during the season, and he'll be a go-to threat in the low post.

"He'll give us another scorer, he'll give us some more size," Kenyon Martin said Sunday. "Just having him out there will be a big help."

Stoudemire's potential return is just another hurdle he'll have to clear in his injury-riddled 11-year career. Before this season even started, he had to undergo left knee debridement and didn't play until New Year's Day.

Looking ahead, Stoudemire said it's all about confidence and perseverance.

"Look past the illusion of an injury and look for the spirit of recovering," he said. "There's no fear. Fear is false evidence appearing real. I have no fear at all."