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playoff boomlet

Nate Robinson, a Knick Again

The Knicks were twelve minutes away from a wretched, season-destroying weekend. They'd lost a depressing game Friday night at home against Toronto, then fell off late in a road loss to Detroit on Saturday. They were in serious danger of a third loss, all against the Eastern Conference's mid-to-lower tier. It would have deflated our beloved little playoff boomlet. It would have been difficult to muster much more enthusiasm. And then, like a sprite in the night, back came Nate Robinson.

Okay, that's a bit of an oversimplification: Danilo Gallinari actually had the big shots in the fourth quarter, and most of Robinson's 27 points off the bench came in the first half. But he played over Chris Duhon most of the second half, giving the Knicks the spark they desperately needed in a 99–91 victory.

It was the most points Robinson had scored since coach Mike D'Antoni unleashed him from the bench a few weeks ago, the one where he exploded for 41 points against the Hawks. Robinson has to be happy with the timing, because they're letting him back in the dunk contest. He's trying to become the first three-time champion, which would mean something if anyone on earth cared about the dunk contest anymore.

But, hey: Nate looks happy. He likes his little dunk title, his brief vacations from the bench, his excited wee hops. Sometimes, like yesterday, he even comes in handy.

The playoff-odds report puts the Knicks at a rough 34.2 percent, by the way. Fortunately, they play the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers at the Garden on Friday. That should help, sure.

By the way, Larry Hughes should be gone soon. Next!

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Photo: Bill Kostroun/AP