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Nate Robinson steals the show as Knicks top Pacers, 123-119

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.

After hitting two free throws 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 that gave the Knicks a 121-119 lead with 26 seconds left.

Then, after Troy Murphy (19 points, 21 rebounds) was called for traveling, Robinson made two free throws with 16 seconds left for the final margin."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 and 45th of the season.

Jarrett Jack had a season-high 33 points and Marquis Daniels scored 28 for the Pacers.

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, the type of player who could put up 20 points every night and carry a team when needed. But that was not the Hughes that Knicks fans saw last night, especially in the first half, when he shot 0-for-5 after going 1-for-9 in his debut Sunday. Hughes was first booed by his own fans midway through the second quarter after missing his fourth shot.

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. Give him a couple of weeks and let him fit in, then we'll talk about it."

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 at their practice facility. The Knicks have two roster spots open and are looking to sign someone to a 10-day contract who can help them in practice. "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, and if there's something in the future, we'll look at it. Definitely not in the rotation." ... Speaking of the rotation, Danilo Gallinari was back in it last night with Quentin Richardson out with a sore Achilles.

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