First chance to see what Knicks are about

Amar'e Stoudemire will miss the next two games Amar'e Stoudemire will miss the next two games as he mourns the death of his brother, and Carmelo Anthony will be out at least that long with a groin strain. (undated file photo) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- This will be one of the final visits to New Jersey for the Knicks. After Saturday's preseason game against the Nets at the Prudential Center, the Knicks will cross the Hudson River only once more, for a regular-season game April 18, before the Nets move to Brooklyn.

The teams could meet in the playoffs, of course, and this generally mild rivalry finally could turn into something once the Nets invade the New York City limits.

But at this point of the mad preseason dash to the regular- season opener on Christmas Day, the Knicks aren't looking at Saturday's game as a chance to show their Gotham supremacy or spark a rivalry.

"In our minds, we're not really playing against the New Jersey Nets,'' Carmelo Anthony said. "We're playing against ourselves. We're trying to work on stuff that we've worked on the past week and a half. As a team, we want to see where we're at going up against somebody else.''

As a result of the truncated 66-game schedule, there are only two preseason games, and the NBA made the games regional matchups. So the Knicks and Nets will split a home-and-home, with the second game on Wednesday at the Garden. It's not much of a preseason, but this is more about getting a primer than getting competition.

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"I think having two [games] is better than none,'' Amar'e Stoudemire said. "Due to the situation of the lockout and the shortened season, it's good to have a couple of preseason games to figure out the pace of the game. We've been off for so long. Practice is one thing but playing a full game is another, and the speed of the game is different. It will be good to get out and get the feel back of how the game is played.''

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It'll be the first live NBA action for rookies Iman Shumpert, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan, which is always a critical experience. Jordan had a late start to training camp, but Shumpert and Harrellson could factor into rotation minutes.

Shumpert, the team's first-round pick, has shown impressive athleticism and tenacity at both ends of the floor. Harrellson, a burly 6-10 forward, may be this season's pleasant surprise. The former Kentucky big man has shown an impressive long-range shooting touch and an astute basketball acumen.

As for the Big Three of Stoudemire, Anthony and Tyson Chandler, Mike D'Antoni said the veterans will play "some'' but won't get a regular-season workload.

"Just try to monitor them, make sure they play enough to start getting in game shape, but not play too much to where they get too tired and risk too much,'' he said. "We'll play a lot of guys and try and get good tape on what we're doing so we can learn from tape. It should be fun.''

As far as a future rivalry is concerned, Stoudemire says the Nets still have "a little more work'' to do to surround All-Star Deron Williams.

"You want to be in a playoff atmosphere. If those guys can make the next step to get to the playoffs, then more players will be willing to play there,'' Stoudemire said. "Deron is definitely a key piece to get guys to come to New Jersey.''

Perhaps even Dwight Howard, the pending-free-agent center whom the Nets are aggressively trying to acquire from the Orlando Magic in a trade.

Coincidentally, the Knicks have three star players the Nets previously targeted -- Stoudemire, Anthony and Chandler -- and the Nets exacted some revenge this week by luring Shawne Williams away with a two-year, $6.1-million deal.

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