Originally posted on Fox Sports  |  Last updated 1/2/13
Perhaps still reeling from the hangover of Monday night's New Year's Eve celebration, the crowd at Madison Square Garden felt as listless and hollow as it had all season for most of the New York Knicks' 105-100 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, the team's fourth defeat in six games. But with 3:31 left in the opening frame, the deadpan crowd sparked, suddenly, to life -- and it wasn't a reaction to the loose-ball foul that had just been committed by LaMarcus Aldridge, or any other play, in particular. Instead, it was an almost visceral response to Amar'e Stoudemire, who had just risen from the bench, removed his warm-up shirt, popped on his protective goggles and chalked his hands in preparation for his first NBA action of the season. Hampered by various injuries for much of his 11-year career, the veteran big man Stoudemire's latest setback was the result of a debridement procedure on his left knee, the same one he had microfracture surgery on in 2005. After a rupture...
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