MIAMI (AP) -When Phoenix center Amare Stoudemire awoke Friday morning, he felt no pain in his right knee.
``Always important to wake up feeling good,'' Stoudemire said.
With that, he decided it was time for a return to the Suns' high-powered lineup.
Ending a three-game hiatus because of soreness in his surgically repaired knee, Stoudemire started against the Miami Heat on Friday night. He took part in some hard drills on Thursday, got loose with ease at the team's morning shootaround and said the knee ``felt great.''
``It was just a matter of time,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``Now it's just getting our team together and getting a little bit better, so it's good to have him back.''
The Suns went 2-1 without Stoudemire, who had arthroscopic surgery on the knee last month to remove a loose particle. He played some hard sessions of three-on-three in practice on Thursday, and felt no residual effects on Friday - to his relief.
``Today's one of my better days,'' Stoudemire said.
He had 23 points and 11 rebounds in Phoenix's season-opening win against Seattle, but was largely ineffective the next night in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, finishing with seven points on 2-for-10 shooting and one rebound in 24 minutes.
Stoudemire hadn't played since. But his presence makes the potent Suns even tougher.
``Amare is just a load to handle down there,'' Miami coach Pat Riley said. ``He's so athletic. ... He's got great hands, he runs, he's very athletic. He makes the whole game different for them.''
The two-time All-Star played in only three games of the 2005-06 season because of microfracture surgery on his left knee. He returned strongly last year, playing in all 82 regular-season games and averaging 20.4 points and a career-high 9.6 rebounds. Stoudemire also shot 57.5 percent last year, another career best.
Stoudemire had surgery on the right knee once previously, also to remove some debris.
``It's just a matter of taking time and getting back at it,'' Stoudemire said. ``You rehab right, you maintain your strength and take your time getting back.''

Top NBA Public Bets

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Knicks vs. Jazz Prediction Listed as a double-digit favorite, are the Jazz laying too many points to the Knicks tonight at 10:30PM ET?
Thumbnail Bucks vs. Kings Prediction Is the over the best play on the board tonight when the Kings host the Bucks at 10:30PM ET?
Thumbnail Cavs vs. Nuggets Prediction Are the Cavs a great play as a road favorite tonight in Denver or will the Nuggets pull off the small upset at 9:00PM ET?
Thumbnail 76ers vs. Thunder Prediction Will the under cash for bettors when the Thunder host the 76ers as double-digit favorites tonight at 8:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Hawks vs. Wizards Prediction Will tonight's Hawks and Wizards matchup at 8:00PM ET be high-scoring for bettors?

NBA Team Pages