GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Tuesday night, the Knicks have the city to themselves. The Rangers are off, the Yankees have completed their ALDS sweep, the Jets and the Giants are watching video and the Mets have been out of the picture since early June.

So in the absence of any other local sporting diversion, it might not be as hard as you think to get pumped up for a preseason game against the 76ers. Tonight's contest, after all, will be the Knicks' first at Madison Square Garden since they fell apart at the end of the 2008-09 season. Though the team really hasn't changed drastically, it might be interesting to see if the tweaking Donnie Walsh has done can result in the team being more than just fun to watch this season.

"You're always excited to start a new year at the Garden," David Lee said. "I think if we're going to have a season where we make the playoffs, a big part of it is going to be playing well at home and establishing a homecourt advantage."

In their first two preseason games, the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - looked a little sloppy. Coach Mike D'Antoni has decided not to start Danilo Gallinari, who went 1-for-7 in Friday's preseason loss in Boston. Jared Jeffries will start in his place alongside Chris Duhon, Wilson Chandler, Lee and Al Harrington.

D'Antoni said he thinks Gallinari has been playing well on defense but is in "a little bit of a funk" with his shot. D'Antoni and Gallinari dismissed concerns about Gallinari not having enough strength in his legs yet.


"I'm feeling good with my body," said Gallinari, who played in only 28 games last season because of back problems.

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Last season's Knicks team was fun to watch, except when they were attempting to play defense. They hope to show major improvement in that area this season.

"I think our offense is going to still be free-flowing, but our defense is going to be a little better," Harrington said. "We're going to try to keep teams around 100 points, and if we do our 108, we'll win the game."

Notes & quotes: Beginning Tuesday, the Knicks will no longer hold morning practices in Westchester on game days. Instead, the players will be asked to report to the arena by 3:30 p.m. and the team will practice there. "We're hoping a couple extra hours of sleep in the morning could help," D'Antoni said . . . Eddy Curry still isn't practicing with the team as trainers try to get him back into "basketball condition." . . . As part of their Garden of Dreams Foundation day, the Knicks hosted 30 boys from The Children's Village for a private day at the training center after practice Monday. Later in the day, several players traveled to Children's Village, a residential home for troubled youth in Dobbs Ferry, to unveil a basketball court that the team refurbished.