Knicks face rejuvenated Nets

Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks attempts

Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks attempts a shot against Andray Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets. (Dec. 11, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks haven't seen the Nets since beating them, 100-86, on Dec. 19.

Eight days later, the Nets fired coach Avery Johnson. They are 10-2 under his replacement, P.J. Carlesimo.

Which is why Knicks coach Mike Woodson was asked Sunday if he sees anything different in the Nets under Carlesimo.

"They're winning," Woodson said.

The Nets (24-16) are two games behind the Knicks (25-13) in the Atlantic Division going into Monday's Martin Luther King Day tussle at the Garden.

The Knicks have taken the last two games against their city rivals after dropping the first meeting Nov. 26.

"They're fighting to move up and we're fighting to stay on top," Woodson said. "So it should be a good game again. Obviously, they're doing something right. I think they're 10-2 under P.J., so they're doing something right. I've said this from Day One: I like the makeup of their ballclub."

It will be the Knicks' first game since their 102-87 win over Detroit in London on Thursday. Sunday's practice was their first since returning to the United States on Friday.

"I'm jet-lagged," said Amar'e Stoudemire, who will be getting his first taste of the Knicks-Nets rivalry this season. "Still on London time. I had such a great time in the U.K. Unbelievable. But I was able to get a lot of rest [Saturday] night and got a massage as soon as I landed, so I feel good."

The Knicks will stay in the Atlantic Division this week with games at Boston (Thursday) and Philadelphia (Saturday).

"A big, big, big stretch for us," Stoudemire said. "Those are three tough games in the East, for sure. So we've got to make sure that we recuperate from the game in the U.K."

The Knicks will get their second look at guard Iman Shumpert, who made his season debut Thursday and scored eight points in 14:50 as a starter. Shumpert's first game at the Garden this season after a serious knee injury no doubt will get the home crowd jazzed.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm not sore or anything. I was just happy to play again . . . It's going to be everything [to play at home]. That'll put a big smile on my face. Even though I'm supposed to have a game face, I'll probably have a smile for the first couple trips down. Overall, I just hope that it provides enough energy for us to get off on the right foot. We've been starting games slow in the Garden and I want to make sure we get off on the right foot."

Woodson said he will check with the team doctor in the morning to see if Shumpert will be allowed to play more than 15 minutes. "That's up to Woody," Shumpert said. "I'll play 48 minutes if Woody tells me to go out there and play 48 minutes."

That's not going to happen. But the Knicks have been buoyed by Shumpert's return and Stoudemire's season-high 17-point effort in London.

"Just going to keep improving," Stoudemire said. "That's the goal."

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