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Rare national spotlight shines on Knicks

 CHICAGO -- Danilo Gallinari doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. "It's just television," he said with a shrug about tonight's game here against the Bulls. Of course the way he's been shooting, you can understand why he'd want to downplay any significance to the fact that this is a national game on an exclusive night in the NBA. The TNT doubleheader is something the Knicks have rarely been a part of in recent years.

And like Gallo, the Knicks were fine with being left out of the party. Why would you want the entire nation to have the opportunity to see for themselves just how much of a mess you really are?

But this game does matter more because it's on TNT. The entire league is watching and this is an opportunity for the Knicks to show they're moving toward respectability. They put up a good fight in Boston last week. Blew what should have been a solid home win last Saturday against the Trail Blazers. Perhaps the biggest victory of the season so far wasn't the season-opening win in Toronto, but the fact that the Knicks got to avoid the Orlando Magic -- did you see what they did to Minnesota? -- this early in the season.

The Bulls, though without Carlos Boozer, are hardly an easy game. But, again, this is a chance for the Knicks to show who they are or, at least, who they can be. 

On the flip, they can also show they're the same old Knicks.

Recall the last time the Knicks were on TNT: Nov. 29, 2007. At the TD Garden in Boston. The Knicks put up 59 points. That is a total of 59 points. The Celtics, with their new Big Three, won it by 45 points.

That's the team that comes to mind when you mention the Knicks in national circles. It's still a circus. It's still a mess. Isiah Thomas. Eddy Curry. Rodney Heard.

Asbestos. 

Kevin Garnett pointed to some pre-game trash talk that Quentin Richardson said the day before as bulletin board material. Clearly the quotes had more bite than the Knicks did that night, as Isiah's group was on their way to a 59-loss season that would be his last in a major capacity with the franchise.

Before then, the Knicks hadn't been on TNT since the second half of the 2005-06 season, Larry Brown's one-and-only year. They dropped another doozy -- 105-79 to the Pistons (the team Brown left to coach the Knicks) -- on Jan. 19, 2006 and also lost 91-87 to LeBron James and the Cavaliers on April 13, 2006.

There were also two appearances during the 2004-05 season, the year after the one-and-done playoff berth. Here's where the Knicks actually had some national success. They beat Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming and the Rockets in Houston, 93-92, on Nov. 18, 2004, and also beat Allen Iverson and the 76ers, 113-101, on Feb. 24, 2005.

So the Knicks bring a three-game losing streak on TNT into tonight's game against the Bulls.

The Knicks will be featured a lot more on national TV this season, with three of several games this season on ESPN awaiting in December, plus another TNT appearance on Dec. 30 in Orlando.

TNT will also have the Knicks on when the Heat come to the Garden on Jan. 27 and when the Bulls come to the Garden on April 12 in what the Knicks hope is a game that will matter for them in the playoff race.

* * *

* - Anthony Randolph spent extra time after the morning shoot-around working with assistant coach Dan D'Antoni on rip-through, one-dribble pull-up moves. He showed no effects of the ankle sprain he suffered a week ago and is expected to play a regular shift (hockey term).

* - KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, who has covered Eddy Curry since he was a high school phenom here in Chicago, wrote about the 7-footer's wayward career in today's Tribune. 

 

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