The Elimi-Nate strategy has reached nine games, and after last night's 98-94 win over the Charlotte Bobcats at the Garden - as precarious as it was - the Knicks' record since Nate Robinson was removed from the rotation is 6-3.
Consider that Exhibit A for Donnie Walsh when he discusses the situation today with Robinson's agent, Aaron Goodwin.
Mike D'Antoni's much-heralded rotation exclusions are not limited to Robinson, however. With newcomer Jonathan Bender providing positive minutes off the bench, Eddy Curry has found himself out of the mix as well, as he recorded his second straight DNP-CD.
"I'm just trying to win basketball games," D'Antoni said before the game. "We've been winning lately and I'm trying to keep the formula going and trying to get as many wins as we can. That's my job."
They got this one doing almost all they could to give it away, as they did last week in Charlotte. Danilo Gallinari, an 80 percent free-throw shooter coming into the game, missed two of four in the final 19.2 seconds to allow the Bobcats to stay within two points for a potential game-tying possession with 9.3 seconds left. But Gallinari redeemed himself with a block on Acie Law with 4.2 seconds left to finally put this one away.
Wilson Chandler had 26 points and Gallinari 21 for the Knicks (10-17), who won their second straight game and sixth in their last eight. David Lee had 15 points and 15 rebounds and Bender added 11 points in 14:42 off the bench. D'Antoni used an eight-man rotation, with Al Harrington (10 points in 32 minutes) and Toney Douglas (14 minutes) seeing action off the bench.
Raymond Felton, whose late drives beat the Knicks last week in Charlotte, had 27 points for the Bobcats (10-16), who played without their best player, Gerald Wallace (severe headaches as the result of an inadvertent elbow by teammate Nazr Mohammed during Saturday's loss to the Jazz), and without Stephen Jackson (back spasms) for most of the second half.
Felton drilled a three with 22.2 seconds left to cut the Knicks' lead to 94-92 after Chandler turned the ball over on an awful inbounds along the sideline with 33 seconds left. After Gallinari hit a free throw with 19.2 seconds left, Felton drove the lane to make it 95-94 with 12.2 seconds to play. Gallinari was fouled again with 9.3 seconds left and again missed the first, which drew a groan from the sellout crowd. But he made the second, going 7-for-10 from the line.