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Knicks' D'Antoni wants Nate to take it down notch

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Nate Robinson was subdued yesterday. Not because Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni told him to be, but because of a twisted left ankle that made Robinson a spectator at practice.

Robinson isn't sure he'll be able to play when the Knicks host the Atlanta Hawks tomorrow. When he does take the floor, D'Antoni would like to see him play a little more team-first ball than he did with the bum ankle in the second half of Saturday's 120-115 loss to the Heat in Miami.

And it probably wouldn't hurt Robinson to save a little of the "look-at-me" showmanship for the next slam dunk contest. It's a fine line, and Robinson may have been on the wrong side of it in Miami.

"Those are things that we have to get better at as a team," D'Antoni said, "and Nate has his own personal program that he has to get better at, as does Chris Duhon, as does David Lee and everybody else. [Playing under control] is one thing that's hard for him because he can get a shot anytime he wants, he can be explosive anytime he wants, but at the same time, he has to play within a team concept. It's a fine line, and I have no problem with that. Sometimes he goes too far one way or too far the other way.

"It's definitely something that he needs to get better at, but there's a lot of other things we've got to do better."

The popular Robinson, who scored 25 points in the first half and four in the second in Miami, said he relies on D'Antoni to give him a heads- up for when it's time to dial back the over-enthusiasm.

"Coach is going to let me know when I'm out of control," Robinson said. "For that part of the game, I really wasn't myself with the ankle. I really couldn't get any oomph to my jump shot and running."

Robinson said the injury occurred in the second quarter when he was running and tried to turn to play defense.

"Nobody was even [near] me, that's what's crazy," he said. "When I twisted my ankle, I could see everybody's face was like, 'Oooooh.' Because I was running pretty fast and I tried to deny. It rolled a little bit, but nothing major."

Notes & quotes: D'Antoni said "there's no timetable that I know of" for the return of Eddy Curry, who missed practice with an illness and still is having trouble with his knee, according to his coach ... The Knicks signed 7-1 center Cheikh Samb to a 10-day contract to give them 13 players on the roster. Samb, 24, has played 20 games in three NBA stops, most recently with the Clippers.

Tomorrow

Hawks at Knicks

7:30 p.m.

TV: MSG

Radio: WEPN (1050)

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