2001 NBA Finals

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Camby returns to practice

Knicks center 'feeling better each day,' will play in Game 4

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Posted: Monday April 30, 2001 2:54 PM
Updated: Tuesday May 01, 2001 9:10 AM
  Marcus Camby Marcus Camby had just two points and two rebounds in 31 minutes in Game 2. AP

PURCHASE, N.Y. (AP) -- Marcus Camby was back on a basketball court Monday, yukking it up with teammates, hoping to put a difficult week behind him and eyeing a return to action.

Though still dealing with the trauma of his mother and two sisters being held hostage, Camby intends to play in Game 4 of New York's first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors.

"It's been depressing, I can't lie," Camby said after practicing Monday. "But you have to get back to your normal life. Coming here, trying to smile and laugh. Just trying to let the guys know that I'm all right. Let's not talk about what happened. Let's move on and close out Toronto."

The Knicks hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, which resumes Wednesday in Toronto.

Camby, a 6-foot-11 center who leads the Knicks' in rebounding (11.5) and blocks (2.16) and their third-leading scorer (12.0), has been out of sorts since last Monday's hostage standoff near Hartford. A man has been charged with sexually assaulting one of Camby's sisters.

Camby returned to the team Wednesday, saying he was having a hard time coping, and played poorly the next night in a Game 2 loss, compiling just two points and two rebounds in 31 minutes.

He didn't travel to Toronto for Sunday's game, which New York won 97-89.

"I've been through a lot and my family has been through a lot, also," Camby said. "So it's a matter of me trying to get my head right and making sure my family situation is stable, which it pretty much is right now. Now I can concentrate on basketball."

He kidded around with teammates Glen Rice and Lavor Postell during a free-throw drill at the end of practice, mocking Postell's excitement at hitting several in a row from the line.

"I think he's back to normal now. He looks that way. He's talking and joking and being the Marcus of old," Latrell Sprewell said. "Hopefully, he'll play that way."

Camby, who said it was tough to watch Sunday's game on TV, was pushed by his family to return to the team.

"I guess they got tired of reporters coming to their door and asking if I was going to play or not. So they were like, 'Go out there and just play.' They've been encouraging me to go out there and do the things I've been doing and try not to worry about it," he said. "When I'm out there on the court, I can just think about what I have to do for those 2, 2 1/2 hours."

Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy told Camby to return only if he was ready to play. And Camby still can back out if he needs to.

"We're happy for him that he feels good enough to be back with us," Van Gundy said. "I told him to make sure he didn't come back until he felt he could play effectively. So by coming back that's what he's saying to me."

The coach and player spoke before Monday's practice.

"What I said to him was if there's any change between today and tomorrow or today and the game, he's got to be honest with me and let me know that so we don't waste any minutes," Van Gundy said.

In Toronto, the Raptors were ambivalent about Camby's upcoming return to the series, worried instead about what they need to do better to force a deciding Game 5 in New York on Friday night.

"They won with him, they won without him," Raptors center Keon Clark said, "so it'll all come down to how we come out and play."

Related information
Family crisis will keep Camby out of Game 3
Short-handed Knicks take 2-1 lead over Raptors
Marcus Camby says he wants to present an optimistic attitude. (192 K)
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