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Steve Nash is back in the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup after seven weeks on the sideline, and he might see an old friend on the floor for the first time this season against the Knicks on Christmas Day.
Forward Amare Stoudemire returned to practice last week. Coach Mike Woodson wasn't ready to declare Stoudemire ready to start, but the All-Star might be able to come back from left knee surgery before the New Year.
The perfect opportunity would be Tuesday. As part of the Christmas NBA showcase, five games stacked throughout the day, the Lakers, led by Mike D'Antoni, Nash and a cast of stars, host the Eastern Conference-leading Knicks. The offense in New York has thrived in Stoudemire's absence, but Woodson has said there will be a significant role for the big man when he's cleared to return.
Stoudemire, for his part, agreed to come off the bench and "whatever it takes to win ... that's the goal."
Dirk Nowitzki was back in the Dallas lineup Sunday, his first game since arthroscopic knee surgery Oct. 19. The 34-year-old didn't make a big contribution in a 129-91 loss to the Spurs.
Coach Rick Carlisle blasted his team's effort and scheduled practices for Christmas Eve and Christmas in the midst of a streak of six losses in seven games. The Mavericks return to action Thursday.
The Bulls are one of 10 teams playing Tuesday, but their best gift will come some time during the second half of the season -- the return of point guard Derrick Rose from a torn ACL on April 28. The special treat for fans on Christmas will be seeing the rest of the Bulls in their red monochromatic uniforms.