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Could Curry see action against Hornets?

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Mike D'Antoni was chatting with Eddy Curry at the end of practice yesterday, trying to get more of a feel for exactly where the 6-11, 300-plus-pounder is at the moment.

The Knicks' coach had noticed that Curry had a little more pep than usual. He wanted to gauge precisely how things were going and see if Curry is ready to play for the first time since logging 2:38 in Dallas Jan. 8, the only game he has played this season.

D'Antoni said Curry told him his knees weren't bothering him, and the coach didn't rule out the possibility that Curry will play against the New Orleans Hornets tonight at the Garden.

"He's getting closer," D'Antoni said, adding that Curry's court status depends on how things go at today's shootaround and what's happening in the game against New Orleans. "He looked a little livelier and said his knees are feeling good. So hopefully, he can get into action here pretty soon.

"I'd like to get him in there sooner than later."

Days before last month's All-Star break, Curry vowed to be back on the court not long after the team reconvened for the second half of the season. But Curry, who didn't speak with the media yesterday and has talked publicly only four times this calendar year, has not appeared hungry to return. Some questioned his desire to play again after his season of tumult.

Curry's nightmarish season began when he showed up to training camp out of shape and played only sparingly in the preseason because of a bacterial infection. Knee problems and lack of conditioning kept him out of D'Antoni's rotation.

There also has been a bevy of off-court issues. Curry's former limo driver is suing him, claiming sexual harassment. His former girlfriend, Nova Henry, and their 9-month-old daughter Ava were murdered in Chicago while Curry's 3-year-old son, Noah, watched.

Curry returned to practice March 6 after a nearly two-month hiatus. With the Knicks virtually out of the playoff picture, getting him on the floor could showcase him and help the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - move his contract, which has two years and $21.7 million left.

Meanwhile, the Knicks have lost six straight and have given away five or six games in brutal fashion this season, D'Antoni noted, with Wednesday's overtime loss to the Clippers the latest one. "It's definitely tough," Chris Duhon said, "especially when the culture of the Knicks has been bad for the last couple of years."

Tonight

Hornets

at Knicks

7:30 p.m.

TV: MSG

Radio: WEPN (1050)

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