Fewer minutes for Amar'e Thursday

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Team doctors have instructed New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson to cut Amar'e Stoudemire's minutes after the power forward experienced soreness in his surgically repaired left knee in Monday's loss to Boston at Madison Square Garden.

Neither Woodson nor Stoudemire termed the latest development a "setback" in Stoudemire's attempt to return from Oct. 31 left knee surgery.

"He was probably a little sore and that's probably the reason for (limiting his minutes). So I've got to be open-minded to that and do what's asked. That's the right thing to do," Woodson said after practice Wednesday.

The coach added that he "shouldn't have" played Stoudemire 28 minutes in the Knicks' 102-96 loss to the Celtics. That was a season-high for Stoudemire, who has played four games since coming back from the debridement procedure.

Stoudemire admitted that he felt "a little bit sore" after the Boston game but, like Woodson, downplayed the notion that he has suffered a setback.

"I feel great," said Stoudemire, who's averaging 10 points and 2.3 rebounds in 20 minutes through four games. "I just think we're taking a precautionary route. Just making sure that everything [continues] to improve. I think that's about it, really. No setbacks, no re-injury, anything like that. I feel great."

Stoudemire played between 17 and 21 minutes in his first three games and logged 28 against Boston, when he was on the floor for most of the fourth quarter.

Woodson said Stoudemire would play between 20 and 23 minutes Thursday at Indiana. He will come off the bench for the Knicks (23-11), just as he's done in the previous four games. Stoudemire's status for Friday's game against Chicago is uncertain because it's the second game of a back-to-back.

"This is a long haul, guys. I'm not going to sit here and jeopardize STAT's situation," Woodson said. "I feel good about what we have with [Marcus] Camby and Kurt [Thomas] and if doctors are saying that we have to limit him, then that's what we have to do."

Any issue regarding Stoudemire's knee is treated with caution because he has a history of knee ailments. He had microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2005. He recovered well from that procedure, but the knee is still considered vulnerable. He also has had a procedure on his right knee.

Most teams were scared off by Stoudemire's history of knee ailments during summer 2010, when he was a free agent. The Knicks signed the former Phoenix Suns player to a five-year, $100 million contract, but the deal was uninsured because of the condition of Stoudemire's knees.