D'Antoni left an ineffective Duhon on the bench for the entire second half last night and the immediate results produced a 107-85 win over the Wizards at the Garden.
"If you saw the first half," D'Antoni said, "we were dead in the water."
The Knicks trailed 45-41 at halftime and D'Antoni decided to start the second half with Nate Robinson on the floor. The 5-9 sparkplug remained on the floor for the duration of the game and finished with 23 points and eight assists in 34:40. The Knicks also played with much more energy and, more importantly, speed. D'Antoni was so pleased he hinted that he may consider starting Robinson over Duhon, though he added, "Don't hold me to that."
The struggling Duhon, whose game went into a second-half tailspin last season, missed five of his six shots in the first two quarters last night and, as D'Antoni said, "his energy was way down." So he turned to the energizer.
"I just thought we need Nate and needed him to show some energy and he did," D'Antoni said. "The rest of the guys responded really well."
Robinson scored 14 points in the second half of a desperately-needed win for the Knicks (19-29), who snapped a three-game losing streak. Previously exiled himself for 14 games in December, Robinson was unfazed by the possibility of becoming a starter.
"I'm just going to be ready whenever my number is called," he said. "If that's starting or coming off the bench, I'm going to be ready."
Duhon agreed that his energy is "not where it needs to be" and had no issues with D'Antoni's decision to sit him. "His job," Duhon said, "is to win games."
Asked if he would be disappointed about being pulled from the starting lineup, Duhon replied, "It's not disappointing at all. Whether you're starting is not the biggest thing in the world. It's all about wins."
The game began with a moment of silence for Hall of Famer Dick McGuire, who died Wednesday at the age of 84.
The passing of McGuire, a selfless point guard who ranks third on the franchise's all-time list in assists, coincided with the current team's lack of a true point guard on the floor throughout the second half. The job was done mostly by committee, as Robinson and Hughes handled the role at times and at others the offense was in the hands of Jared Jeffries and David Lee.
Lee had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Al Harrington, who returned after missing two games with a bruised knee, had 12 points. Another change to the rotation was Larry Hughes, who played 18 minutes and chipped in 11 points.
"It's just good to be out there," said Hughes, who on Sunday said he had his eye on the Feb. 18 trade deadline after he was left on the bench for five straight games.