The man in the black derby and tan sling with the gold chain hanging from his neck walked into the postgame press conference with a broad smile Sunday evening. For the first time since cutting his left hand on the glass casing of a fire extinguisher during a fit of frustration last Monday, Amar’e Stoudemire allowed himself a moment of relief after recording a double-double in the Knicks’ 89-87 win.

“It makes me feel better that we won,” he said.

Stoudemire, who scored 20 points and collected 10 rebounds, returned after missing Game 3 due to the injury. In the six days between game appearances, Stoudemire had surgery to repair a small muscle in the left hand, stretched and iced the hand and hoped for quick healing. He tried several braces and progressed in practice with padding on it. By Saturday, he practiced in full. He was cleared by the team’s doctors Sunday and Mike Woodson started Stoudemire, who had been listed as “doubtful.”

“He surprised me,” center Tyson Chandler said. “I didn’t think he was going to play. He played and made a huge impact on the game.”

Stoudemire approached his return with an unflinching demeanor. On his first drive to the basket he absorbed a blow from LeBron James, missed the layup but then collected the ball again to finish. He then dunked with the right hand on his next touch, a reminder of the aggression he offers the offense.

“He gave them a spark they needed,” James said.

Foul trouble trapped Stoudemire at times. He picked up his third with 8:24 left in the first half, but again left his imprint on the game early in the third quarter. He drove left again on Miami forward Udonis Haslem, who eventually fouled out. Then, Stoudemire adjusted to the Heat’s pressure, knocking down a baseline jumper and spinning into the lane for a dunk over point guard Mario Chalmers, who fouled him on the play. Stoudemire hit the subsequent free throw.

“He’s a very energetic guy,” Chandler said. “I think he definitely uplifted the team.”

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