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Nate steals the show in win over Pacers

The last time we saw Nate Robinson shooting a basketball in such close proximity to actor Will Ferrell, they were playing two-on-two on the "Today Show" with Meredith Viera and Woody Harrelson last May.

That game could not have been half as exciting as the ending of the one Robinson played with Ferrell sitting courtside last night. Robinson came off the bench to score 41 points, 32 in the second half, in the Knicks' 123-119 win over the Pacers.

-- See photos of Will Ferrell's acting career

-- See photos from the Knicks' win over the Pacers

After hitting two free throws with 51 seconds left to tie the score at 119, Robinson made the key play of the game, stealing an inbounds pass from Jeff Foster and taking it the length of the court for a layup with 26 seconds left that gave the Knicks a 121-119 lead.

That play was reminiscent of Robinson's days as a defensive back at the University of Washington, where he had two interceptions in 2002. "That interception definitely would have been for six to the house," Robinson said. "Would have got a flag for celebrating, but it's OK."

Then, after Troy Murphy (19 points, 21 rebounds) was called for traveling, Robinson made two free throws with 16 seconds left. That gave him 18 points in the quarter, including the Knicks' final eight. Robinson's 41 points matched Bob McAdoo's franchise record for most points in a game by a reserve.

"On a night when we lacked energy and focus, Nate really picked it up for us," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Robinson is a big fan of Ferrell's and often uses the "shake and bake" phrase that Ferrell coined in his movie "Talladega Nights." After the game, Robinson walked across the court and gave Ferrell the jersey he wore a week ago when he won the NBA's slam dunk contest.

"I'm a big fan," said Robinson, who is averaging 30.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.3 turnovers in the last six games.

Al Harrington had 27 points and David Lee added 20 points and 13 rebounds in his 20th consecutive double-double. Jarrett Jack had 33 points and Marquis Daniels 28 for Indiana, which was missing Danny Granger (foot), Mike Dunleavy (knee) and T. J. Ford (flu).

No Knick had a more disappointing game than Larry Hughes, who scored five points in his Madison Square Garden debut.

There was a time not all that long ago when Hughes was a legitimate star. But that was not the Hughes that Knicks fans saw last night, especially in the first half, when he shot 0-for-5 - prompting boos - after going 1-for-9 in his debut Sunday.

D'Antoni said before the game he has confidence that Hughes can return to his form of 2004-05, when he averaged 22 points a game for the Wizards.

Said D'Antoni: "Larry's going to be good. I don't have any qualms. I'm very optimistic he's going to be really good. I loved the way he played in Washington. I think we can get him back to that. He's not ready to be judged right now, not even close."

Notes & quotes: Coney Island's Quincy Douby, former Syracuse player Demetrius Nichols and D-league 7-footer Cheikh Samb were among the players the Knicks worked out yesterday. The Knicks have two roster spots open and are looking to sign someone to a 10-day contract. "There's no way I'm going to go get another young guy and put him in the lineup," D'Antoni said. "We have a rotation. We'll probably sign someone just to practice."

-- See photos of Will Ferrell's acting career

-- See photos from the Knicks' win over the Pacers

The Nate-ural

Nate Robinson is averaging 30 points and shooting 52.8 percent from the field in his last six games.

Date Opp. W/L FG/FGA Pts.

2/10 @GS L 12/22 30

2/11 @LAC L 13/28 33

2/17 SA W 13/23 32

2/20 TOR W 10/18 26

2/22 @TOR L 7/16 18

2/23 IND W 11/18 41


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