Friday , Mar , 24 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Stoudemire returns for Suns

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – In his return to the starting lineup for
Phoenix on Thursday, forward Amare Stoudemire scored 20 points and pulled down
nine rebounds in a 125-108 victory over Portland.

“When I first started, i just wanted to get myself going,” said Stoudemire. “I
was a little hyped right before the game started, and once the adrenaline got
to pumping and I got that first shot to go down, everything was pretty cool
from there.”

Stoudemire had not played this season due a left knee injury that required
surgery to repair a joint surface defect on October 11, 2005.

The 2003 NBA Rookie of the Year, Stoudemire is coming off a stellar season
that saw him lead Phoenix to the league’s best regular-season record (62-20).
The 23-year-old averaged 26 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, while also
ranking second in the NBA in field goal percentage (.559) and first in free
throw attempts (795).

Stoudemire was even better during the playoffs, but his team ultimately lost
in five games during the Western Conference finals to San Antonio.

The 6-foot-10 Stoudemire was the first player to enter the NBA directly from
high school and win its top rookie honor. The ninth overall pick in the 2002
NBA Draft, Stoudemire has averaged 19.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in
217 career games with the Suns.

“He looked pretty good tonight,” said Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni. “The big
test is when he wakes up tomorrow morning and the next couple of days, he
still has some dog days a head of him.”

Stoudemire, a 2004-05 All-Star, agreed to a contract extension prior to this
season that will keep him with the team through the 2010-11 season.