The Elimi-Nate strategy has reached nine games, and after last night's 98-94 win over the 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 Monday with Robinson's agent, Aaron Goodwin. Consider the recent run of success by Mike D'Antoni's Knicks (10-17) - who have won six of eight and are 9-8 since a 1-9 start - his argument for going with the short rotation.
"Whether that's the reason for success or whether it's just coincidence," said David Lee (15 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists), "it would be tough for him to go back and change it now."
The personnel may remain mostly the same - save for the recent addition of Jonathan Bender (11 points in 14:42) - but D'Antoni has changed some things, including a move that sent the team's leading scorer, Al Harrington, back to the bench in the previous game in favor of Danilo Gallinari. Harrington still saw 31:18 last night but had only 10 points and shot 4-for-10.
Wilson Chandler led the Knicks with 26 points but almost gave the game away when he turned the ball over on an inbounds play with 33 seconds left. Raymond Felton hit a three-pointer with 22.2 seconds to play to cut the Knicks' lead to 94-92.
After Chris Duhon missed a free throw, Gallinari - an 80 percent free-throw shooter entering the game - missed on the front ends of two pairs of free throws that sandwiched a drive by Felton with 12.2 seconds left.
Gallinari (21 points) stared quizzically at the rim after each miss as if something were wrong with the iron. "No, it was my fault," said Gallinari, whose final free throw put the Knicks ahead 96-94 with 9.3 seconds to play. "I was just mad for missing."
Gallinari redeemed himself by blocking Acie Law's driving shot with 4.9 seconds left, and Chandler added two free throws to avoid another painful meltdown against the Bobcats, who beat the Knicks last week in Charlotte.
After that game, Stephen Jackson said the Bobcats know they are better than the Knicks. Jackson didn't finish this game, however, as he left in the third quarter with back spasms.
Felton led the Bobcats with 27 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.Tyson Chandler had 13 points and 14 rebounds.