for this game

Knicks return home to face Nets

Mar 17, 2009 - 5:27 PM By Anthony Giornalista Stats Senior Writer

New Jersey (28-39) at New York (28-38), 7:30 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK (AP) -- A steady and familiar hand at point guard is certainly helpful for teams trying to move into playoff position. Losing a floor leader is of particular concern when he's a player of Devin Harris' caliber.

While the New York Knicks may be set to welcome back Chris Duhon, the Nets are uncertain about Harris' status as the playoff hopefuls meet at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

Duhon has helped pace coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offense in his first year with New York after signing as a free agent from Chicago. Duhon, averaging 11.8 points and 7.6 assists, is expected to return Wednesday after missing two straight games with a sore lower back.

Harris' sprained left shoulder could potentially be much more serious. The All-Star guard was hurt in a 107-105 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night and will undergo further evaluation.

The Nets, who along with the Knicks are near the bottom of a logjam in the Eastern Conference that has six teams competing for the final playoff spot, cannot afford to lose Harris for an extended period of time.

Harris is first among league point guards with 22.6 points per game while adding 7.0 assists and 1.7 steals.

"The way we are, we need everybody," swingman Vince Carter said. "Devin has gone down and we need everybody. We need younger guys to step up more and go above the call of duty."

Veteran Keyon Dooling started for Harris in a 121-96 loss to Denver on Monday night. New Jersey, one-half game behind New York, went 0-4 on the Western portion of its five-game road trip.

"This was a tough trip for us," coach Lawrence Frank said. "We had some close calls, but couldn't finish some of the games."

The Knicks had won three straight on their five-game trip before losing 98-93 to East-leading Cleveland on Sunday night. New York will play five of its next six at MSG as it continues its playoff push.

"We're in a great position to make it," forward Al Harrington told the Knicks' official Web site. "We have 16 games to go. We're playing a lot better. I think we really believe now we can do this."

The Knicks, who opened their trip with a 106-101 loss to the Nets, will try to end their poor play at home against their Atlantic Division rivals. New York has lost 12 of its last 15 home games against New Jersey, averaging 92.7 points over that span.

But the Knicks enter this contest having reached 100 points in 15 straight games at MSG, averaging 109.8 en route to winning nine of those contests.

Nate Robinson continues to play a large role in New York's scoring success, averaging 26.8 points and 6.7 assists in his last four games. Robinson, who usually comes off the bench, has started the last two games with Duhon out.

Dooling had 17 points and six assists in place of Harris on Monday.

Nets forward Sean Williams also missed the game after being arrested Monday at a cell phone store in a mall in suburban Denver on accusations he got into an argument with a clerk and threw a computer monitor.

Williams, averaging 2.5 points in 30 games, is uncertain for Wednesday.

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