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Now it's Knicks' Hughes who is benched, upset

Larry Hughes watches the Knicks' blowout win over

Larry Hughes watches the Knicks' blowout win over Indiana from the bench. (Jan. 3, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Mike D'Antoni laughed Saturday when he was asked if he was glad the Nate Robinson benching issue was behind him. "You know what?" he said. "It'll be something else next week."

Indeed. Now it's Larry Hughes' turn to vent. After Sunday night's 132-89 win over the Pacers, the guard, whom Robinson replaced in the eight-man rotation, blasted D'Antoni for failing to communicate the decision to bench him. Hughes also thought he was unfairly demoted as a result of a groin injury he suffered midway through December.

"That's an unwritten rule in our league; you never lose your spot coming back from injury," Hughes said. "I feel like that's what happened." Hughes missed only three games, Dec. 17-20, but thought his minutes were then cut. "It's on paper," he said. "We can look at it."

Hughes, who did not play Friday in Atlanta when Robinson's benching ended with a 41-point game, was the only active player not to get into last night's win. Not that he really wanted to play in garbage time.

"Not really, man," Hughes said. "I wasn't into it to get out there for 12 minutes."

Robinson scored six points Sunday and shot 2-for-11 in 23 minutes. Hughes has averaged 10.4 points this season and shot 36.8 percent and averaged 28.4 minutes.

D'Antoni sat Hughes the first two games of the season but then made him a regular up until the injury. Hughes said he went to D'Antoni early in the season about playing time and thinks it was up to the coach to seek him out when he decided to make the change to Robinson.

"That's not a good way to play the season, I mean, going back and forth," Hughes said. "This is my second or third time now. It's getting old."

Hughes, who could be viewed as a valuable $13.6-million expiring contract, avoided any public trade requests - the NBA fined Robinson $25,000 when his agent made one - and didn't sound very interested in speaking with Donnie Walsh about his situation. "I'm really over it, man," he said. "The mind games and all that stuff. I'm getting up there in years. I'm over it."

New York Sports