Pablo Prigioni likely to return Monday when Knicks host Nets

Head coach Mike Woodson talks with Pablo Prigioni Head coach Mike Woodson talks with Pablo Prigioni during a game against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Pablo Prigioni is expected to play for the first time in more than a month Monday, and Knicks coach Mike Woodson might even use his return to shake things up in his starting lineup.

"He looked good," Woodson said after the Knicks practiced Sunday. "I think he'll suit up."

The Knicks enter their Martin Luther King Day matinee against the Nets having lost three straight games after going on a five-game winning streak, their longest of the season.

Woodson liked the way the tandem of Prigioni and Raymond Felton played down the stretch last season, and he seems to be contemplating going back to that combo Monday. Prigioni hasn't played since he broke his toe on Dec. 16.

"I haven't made that decision on which way to go," Woodson said. "I'm going to sleep on it and make a decision [Monday].''

When he was injured, Prigioni was starting at point guard because Felton was out with a hamstring strain. If Woodson starts Prigioni with Felton, he likely will move Carmelo Anthony to power forward and bring Andrea Bargnani off the bench.

Woodson said his decision could depend on whether the Nets go with the smaller lineup they've been using lately in which Paul Pierce starts at power forward.

The Knicks (15-25) enter Monday's game two games behind the eighth-place Nets (16-22) in the Eastern Conference. The Nets have won six of their last seven games and will look to avenge their 113-83 loss to the Knicks at Barclays Center on Dec. 5.

At the start of the season, neither team was expected to struggle just to make the playoffs. "If you would have said both teams would have these records at this point in the season at the beginning of the season, I would have put any amount of money betting against that," Anthony said. "I don't really know what their problem is. I can only focus on our problem over here and try to get better at that."

The Knicks know they have to play better, and play better quickly, to have any hope of making the playoffs. They fell to 7-13 at home with their loss to the Clippers on Friday night. That was the start of an eight-game homestand that should represent a real opportunity for the Knicks. Of their six remaining opponents, only one, Miami, has a winning record. The Knicks cap the homestand against the Heat on Feb. 1.

Said Anthony: "This is our time to make something happen."

Notes & quotes: Metta World Peace, who has been receiving platelet-rich plasma therapy on his left knee, will not be ready to play against the Nets . . . Anthony, who had a run-in with the Nets' Kevin Garnett last season when Garnett was with the Celtics, said he occasionally runs into him now that they are playing in the same city. Said Anthony: "I don't have no problem with him. He don't have no problem with me. We talk. We laugh. We joke. I see him out and about. No problems."

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