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Knicks' Robinson trying to regain confidence

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Most of his teammates had left the MSG Training Center courts, flocking somewhere inside the locker room to get a head start on catching a glimpse of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama.

Nate Robinson remained, though, firing away jumpers from all different angles as Kenny Atkinson -- the former St. Anthony's standout from Northport and current Knicks assistant coach -- kept feeding him.

"I am just trying to perfect my jump shot like Allan Houston," Robinson said with a smile yesterday, knowing the guy who wore No. 20 during his days with the Knicks and now serves as Donnie Walsh's special assistant wasn't too far away. "But it's going to take a while. I'm just trying to win games, not really trying to worry about my shooting percentage and how I'm shooting. I just want to play and help my team get better."

But as a sparkplug off the bench, Robinson's main job is to bring an infusion of energy and scoring. However, he's been mired in a shooting slump that began at the end of December and his confidence has taken a hit, leading to indecisiveness.

Robinson, who made only 32.7 percent of his shots in January, has passed up open looks because he doesn't have a great feel for his long-range shot. He's also getting caught in between at times, trying to figure out whether to shoot the jumper or drive to the basket. It's something he's working on.

"Just getting in the flow," said Robinson, an upcoming restricted free agent whose declining numbers could lead to the Knicks -- who are owned by Cablevision, which owns Newsday -- deciding not to re-sign him. "Not thinking so much. Just playing."

That's essentially what Chris Duhon does and is why he's quickly turned into one of coach Mike D'Antoni's most invaluable pieces. Duhon sat out yesterday's practice with a sore lower back but should play tonight when D'Antoni's former team, the Suns, comes to the Garden. Duhon is averaging nearly 40 minutes a game, partially because he doesn't have an adequate backup who can come in and properly run the offense, a must for the up-tempo scheme.

Robinson hasn't proven he can do that in Duhon's absence, and the coaching staff doesn't exactly trust him with the keys to the offense, which is why Duhon is forced to play hurt. Although Robinson spent most of the summer focusing on running the point, his decision-making skills do not resemble those of a natural floor general because he gets locked in on scoring and isn't focused on finding open teammates

"Coach lets me know when I'm doing too much," Robinson said. "So that's a good thing, always having him on my side and my teammates instilling confidence in me, and just making sure I'm keeping at a level pace."

Notes & quotes: David Lee, who sprained his right ankle in Monday's win over the Bulls, was limited in practice yesterday but is expected to play tonight . . . Anthony Roberson (back spasms) didn't practice and is questionable.


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