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Bender getting playing time but struggling

Jonathan Bender is the one getting those coveted minutes that have Nate Robinson and Eddy Curry pushing play-me-or-trade-me campaigns, and the Knicks aren't getting much out of it lately.

After an impressive showing in his first two games as a Knick, Bender's production has disintegrated to the point of last night's scoreless performance in 10:56 in a 95-88 loss to the Spurs.

"Certain quarters, certain games, I just feel like there's no rhythm at all," Bender said of his recent play, which includes 1-for-7 shooting and five turnovers in the last three games. "I have no rhythm at all. It's going to take some time to get adjusted and just get the rust off. That's all I can really say about it."

These are Bender's first games since he retired during the 2006-07 season because of chronic knee trouble. Mike D'Antoni, who believes Bender's perimeter skills and length are a better long-term fit for his style than Curry's low-post game, said he is not surprised by the struggles.

"I think he's back in that rut which we thought he would go to," he said. "You just have to battle through it and stay with it."

Added Bender, "Yeah, it just takes a little while to get all of the rust off. It's going to take a minute, you know? That's about it."

Knicks fix

David Lee (28 points) shot 11-for-13, and both of his misses were layups. With teams packing it in to stop him on the pick-and-roll, he has more opportunities to pop than roll, and his mid-range game was impressive.

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