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Monday, December 10, 2012
Next nine days: Nets twice, D'Antoni, Lin

By Ian Begley


There's Hanukkah and its eight crazy nights.

Then you have the 12 days of Christmas.

Thanks to the NBA schedule makers, Knicks fans have a little holiday season of their own coming up.

Just call it Nine Days of The Knicks.

Mike Woodson's club tips off an intriguing nine-day stretch Tuesday night against their East River rivals, the Brooklyn Nets.

Let's break it down:

Tuesday at Brooklyn: The Knicks will be looking for payback at Barclays Center after dropping their first game in Brooklyn late last month. They were missing Jason Kidd in that first matchup due to back spasms, but they should have Kidd for Tuesday's game.

It's the Nets who are dealing with injury issues. They're listing center Brook Lopez (foot sprain) as questionable for the game. They've gone 1-4 without Lopez.

Thursday vs. Lakers: Mike D'Antoni will return to the Garden for the first time since he resigned from his post as Knicks coach last March. D'Antoni left the team after he and Carmelo Anthony clashed over the Knicks' playing style. He resurfaced with the Lakers but has struggled in L.A. without the injured Steve Nash, going 4-7 in his first 11 games on the bench.

The Knicks, on the other hand, are 33-11 in the regular season under Mike Woodson, D'Antoni's replacement. The sexy story line going into this one will be Carmelo vs. D'Antoni. You think Melo will want to beat D'Antoni's Lakers at MSG?

Saturday vs. Cleveland: OK, so NBA schedule makers clearly didn't consult with us before they scheduled the Cavs in the middle of this stretch.

This doesn't really fit with our narrative but, hey, at least Kyrie Irving might be healthy by the time Cleveland comes to town.

Dec. 17 vs. Houston: Depending on where you fall in the Jeremy Lin debate, your favorite or least favorite international sensation will be back in town next Monday when the Rockets pay their lone visit to the Garden. The Knicks will again be out for revenge, as the Houston thrashed New York in a 28-point home win on Nov. 23.

Will Lin get booed or cheered at MSG? Either way, it's hard to argue with owner James Dolan's decision to let Lin walk over the summer. The Knicks are 15-5 and Raymond Felton has been a driving force behind their success.

Dec. 19, vs. Brooklyn: The Knicks welcome Brooklyn to Madison Square Garden for the first time. The crowd at Barclays Center on Nov. 26 was about 60-40, Nets to Knicks fans. It should be a different story at the Garden, which is unquestioned Knicks territory. If not, that will be an interesting development.

Also interesting? If Lopez is healthy, it will be great to see him and Tyson Chandler go at it. With the dearth of true centers in the NBA, this is one of the best head-to-head matchup between big men in the league.