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- The New York Knicks will be without starting forward Amar’e Stoudemire against the Utah Jazz tonight. Stoudemire is dealing with knee soreness and will sit out because of what Knicks coach Mike Woodson called “maintenance.” Stoudemire hasn’t missed a game since March 12 and has played well recently, scoring in double figures in his last 14 appearances. “It’s just maintenance,” Woodson said. “This would be five games in seven days. We just got to protect him and get him ready for Brooklyn (on Wednesday night). Amar’e’s been playing well. There’s been a lot of bounce to his game. We just got to keep him at a good place. I think he was a little sore and needed to back off.”
- New York will shuffle its starting lineup without Stoudemire in it. Iman Shumpert will start at guard and J.R. Smith will move to the three. Carmelo Anthony will start at the four position. The Knicks are accustomed to being with Stoudemire at certain points in the schedule, and Woodson said the rest can be beneficial for his power forward. “You’d like to have him every game,” Woodson said. “He’s been playing well. We’ve benefited from that 10 of the last 13 games. Someone else has got to step up and fill in and play.”
- With Stoudemire out, Utah has countered with a change in its starting lineup. Marvin Williams will return to his role as a stretch four, while Enes Kanter will now come off the bench.
- The Jazz are at full strength for tonight’s game. They had key reserve Alec Burks return from an ankle injury against Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon, and he had 12 points in 21 minutes.
- Speaking of Sunday’s game, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said his team needs to start much better tonight. The Jazz scored just nine points in the first quarter against the Thunder and the game was pretty much out of reach just minutes into it. “We got to do a better job (in the first quarter), Corbin said. “I thought after the first quarter we did a good job of bringing some energy and being able to attack the basket some and getting some shots in rhythm.”
- The Jazz are wrapping up a brutal month tonight. They will have played 17 games in March with 10 of them coming on the road. They are 2-14 this month. “It was a difficult experience for this young group,” Corbin said. “The thing we wanted to make sure was to have this group experience it now. We understood it was going to be difficult. We understood a lot of learning was going to take place — how to handle their life and handle their job at the same time. It was taxing, not only the travel involved but the teams we played and what they’re playing for and where we are in our development.”
– Andrew Aragon