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Landry in battle for Knicks' last roster spot

New York Knicks players Joe Crawford, left, and

New York Knicks players Joe Crawford, left, and Gabe Pruitt ice their knees after practice at NBA basketball training camp. (September 29, 2009) Credit: AP

The preseason schedule ends Wednesday night and Marcus Landry knows the clock is ticking. The final rosters are due Monday and the Knicks have three players vying for two spots. And two of those three players, Joe Crawford and Chris Hunter, have partially guaranteed deals.

Landry, an undrafted rookie, had to pay his own way to New York in September just to get into the scrimmages at the MSG Training Center. It earned him an invite to camp and the Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday, decided to keep him around after the post-camp cuts.

"If there's a spot open," Landry said, "it's a spot I'm going to get."

His brother, Carl, carved out a spot with the Houston Rockets by going from an unheralded second-round pick to a valuable, versatile player. Marcus said through his entire life he tried to follow in his brother's footsteps, "But I always said whatever he does, I'm going to do better."

For instance, Carl Landry didn't have the grades to play Division I basketball out of high school, so he had to spend two years at the junior college level before he moved on to Purdue. Marcus went right to Wisconsin and proved himself to be equally versatile. The 6-7 forward even played center when the Badgers needed him there.

"It's out of my position, but, hey, if you need somebody to do that, I'll do it," he said. "Whatever coach needs me to do."

Landry hasn't seen much time in the preseason (3.3 points, 6.3 minutes per game going into last night's game against the Celtics), but what he's shown in practice has been enough to impress the coaching staff. On a team that desperately needed to upgrade its defense, Landry can defend almost anywhere on the floor. He also developed the same rugged toughness his brother has used to become a key player in Rick Adelman's rotation in Houston.

The 15th man isn't a critical role on the team, but for one man, who is already married with three children, it would mean yet another step along big brother's path.

"It would mean a lot, a whole lot," he said. "I have kids at a young age, so to provide for them, that would mean a lot."

Notes & quotes: A day after he said he saw himself as a starter, Al Harrington was back in the starting lineup last night. Mike D'Antoni hasn't committed to a starting five, but said he wanted to take these last two games of the preseason as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. The team plays Wednesday night against the Nets in Newark . . . Eddy Curry, who hasn't practiced with the team since he injured his calf on the first day of training camp, is not expected to play Wednesday night, which means he will have missed the entire preseason. The absence is not because of the injury but a team-ordered exile with trainers until he is in physical condition to handle full-court basketball.

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