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ANKLE TO COST NATE 2 WEEKS Now the Knicks will really need the surging Danilo Gallinari to continue his rise.

The Knicks' chances of closing in on their franchise record for worst start increased yesterday when coach Mike D'Antoni said bench sparkplug Nate Robinson will miss up to two weeks with a severely sprained right ankle.

Robinson, who left the Garden Saturday night on crutches, could be out longer as he undergoes Xrays today to see if he has a fracture. The winless Knicks are not deep or built to withstand an injury to a key player, though he began the season shooting just 28.6 percent.

The Knicks take an 0-3 record into tonight's game against New Orleans (7:30, MSG, WNYM 970 AM). Their worst-ever start came in 1985-86 at 0-8. They face Indiana Wednesday and LeBron James' Cavaliers Friday in their only visit.

The Knicks prefer to show King James their best side since he'll only come to New York in 2010 if he thinks he can turn them into a title contender.

"Everybody has got to step up and have more energy and do something more than they usually do because Nate is important for us," said Gallinari, coming off his career-best 30-point outing Saturday.

D'Antoni's mood was surprisingly giddy yesterday at practice, which underscores the development of Gallinari is as important as the won-loss record. It makes sense. That the Italian is brimming with confidence with King James soon coming to town is big plus. The Knicks want to show they have a future All-Star in Gallinari- one whom James can team up with.

Larry Hughes, who played 37 minutes Saturday night against the Sixers and scored 18 points, and rookie point guard Toney Douglas will have their roles increased.


Al Harrington was fined $25,000 by the NBA for criticizing referees. The fine, announced yesterday, was for comments he made two nights earlier after the Knicks' 102-100 loss at Charlotte.

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Added: November 3, 2009


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