Prigioni to return, start (?) for Knicks

Pablo Prigioni will probably return to the lineup Monday against Brooklyn. And he may be starting.

“We’ve had some success, as you recall last year, with playing [Prigioni] and Raymond [Felton] both and Melo back at the 4,” Mike Woodson said Sunday. “I’m not opposed to going back small based on what other teams do.”

Jason Kidd and the Nets have played a smaller lineup of late, with Paul Pierce at power forward. So Woodson may match up by inserting Prigioni into the starting five.

This move would shift Carmelo Anthony to power forward and move Andrea Bargnani to the bench. Anthony thrived playing primarily at power forward last season, leading the league in scoring at 28.7 points per game.

This season, Anthony has played 32 percent of the Knicks' minutes at small forward and 41 percent at power forward, according to 82games.com. His numbers are better at small forward, which could be a sign of the failures of the Knicks’ supporting cast rather than anything Anthony’s not doing.

Last season, the Knicks were at their best in the regular season with Prigioni and Raymond Felton in the backcourt.

New York went 15-1 when Prigioni and Felton started together and, based on advanced statistics, the ball seemed to move better when Prigioni was on the floor.

The Knicks scored 5.2 more points per 100 possessions last season with Prigioni, who has missed the past 16 games with a broken toe, on the court. The Knicks' assist rate, or percentage of plays that ended in an assist, was 6.8 percent higher when Prigioni was on the floor last season.

Woodson acknowledged on Sunday that a smaller lineup may help the Knicks’ shooting.

“That was kind of us last year with all the shooters and how we spread it and had Melo at the 4. So we’ll see how it goes,” he said.

If Woodson goes with a small starting lineup on Monday, it will be interesting to see if last season’s results are duplicated.

The coach had been committed to playing a front line of Anthony, Bargnani and Tyson Chandler this season.

But Chandler has been out for 24 games this season due to injury and illness. So the big front line has played only 13 games (and 173 minutes) together. The results haven’t been great.

The Knicks are being outscored by 7.2 points per 48 minutes when Chandler, Bargnani and Anthony share the floor.

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