"Let's make the playoffs," D'Antoni said. "That would be even better."
That could become even more of a long shot than Lee's hopes for an invitation to the Dallas showcase on Feb. 14.
After a 106-104 loss to the Raptors last night at the Garden, their seventh defeat in the last 10 games, the Knicks (18-27) are starting to fade out of the race even before the All-Star break. And now they might be without their most important defensive player, Jared Jeffries, who sat out the second half with a hyperextended right knee.
Without Jeffries, Lee's defensive deficiencies in the paint as an undersized center are exposed; that occurred against Toronto in a critical moment.
Raptors forward Chris Bosh, who was named to the All-Star team as a reserve last night, drove around Wilson Chandler for a basket that gave Toronto a 105-102 lead with 15.9 seconds left. Lee (three fouls) offered very little help in the paint on the play as Bosh drove by him undaunted.
Bosh then blocked the driving Nate Robinson's shot, but it freed up Lee, who was there for the rebound with 9.9 seconds left to bring the Knicks within 105-104. Jarrett Jack was immediately fouled and hit one of two from the line with 7.3 seconds left to set up the final possession.
"The play wasn't for me," said Harrington, who had 20 points off the bench and missed the final shot before running into Jack. "I was the last resort."
D'Antoni said the final play was supposed to wind up in the hands of Robinson (14 points).
Lee finished with 29 points and 18 rebounds in 40:33 for the Knicks. Bosh had 27 points, 15 rebounds and six turnovers in 41:42 for Toronto (25-22). The two matched up throughout the game and Lee, as in the teams' previous meeting here Jan. 15, seemed determined to out-perform Bosh, who will be a free agent this summer and often is listed as a potential Knicks target.
Lee turned to show a long scratch across his left shoulder that he suggested was a result of a missed drive against Hedo Turkoglu (26 points, 11 rebounds) with 40.9 seconds left and the Knicks trailing 103-102.
"It's a tough one," Lee said. "I should have finished. That's a shot I make nine out of 10 times."
A failure to finish was a collective issue. The Knicks held a 102-97 lead with 1:47 left after a dunk by Lee, but with the team's only true point guard, slumping Chris Duhon, on the bench down the stretch, the offense was completely out of sync.
Duhon recorded nine assists with one turnover but shot 1-for-4, which prompted D'Antoni to go with Robinson.
Gallinari finished with 18 points for the Knicks, who shot 38-for-87 from the field.
Meanwhile, Harrington is having trouble with his left knee, which has been bothering him for "the last six weeks," he said. He is scheduled to get an MRI today but didn't appear ready to sit out, saying: "I always said, if I can walk, I can play."