Hughes says he isn't worried about cold shooting

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As Larry Hughes used the tail of his shirt to wipe the beads of perspiration off his face, he tried to explain why he is not sweating the fact that he hasn't made a shot in the preseason. "I'm a proven scorer in this league, so it's not a problem for me,'' Hughes said after the Knicks held an open practice for fans at Fordham University yesterday. "It's the preseason. I'm not too concerned."

Hughes is 0-for-17 from the field through four preseason games. That includes going 0-for-3 in the second half of the Knicks' win over the Nets Friday after not playing a minute in the first half.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said it has been difficult for Hughes to find his rhythm, given that he has been going in and out of the game and playing with rookies.

Hughes, who has averaged 14.6 points per game in his 11-year career, came to the Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday, last February in a trade with Chicago. Although the fact that his contract expires at the end of this season was the biggest reason the Knicks were interested in him, his ability to score also was seen as a much-needed bonus. In 25 games with the Knicks last season, Hughes averaged 11.2 points.

But it has become apparent that D'Antoni's system isn't a perfect fit for Hughes, primarily because he is more of a scorer than a shooter. The team also seems committed to its younger players, so there's a possibility that he could be the odd man out once D'Antoni settles on a rotation.

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Hughes said he hasn't considered talking to D'Antoni about his role, and added that he figures this is something that will work itself out.

Said Hughes: "I haven't been getting a lot of shots that I want and making shots that I want. But it's the preseason. I think I'm getting limited minutes and not getting into a rhythm. But it will come. I've played in this league a long time. I'm not concerned.''

Notes & quotes: D'Antoni said he has not decided on a starting lineup for today's game against Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv, a five-time Euroleague champion. He said he is inclined to start Nate Robinson at guard alongside Chris Duhon.

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