Coach's Report: Shump's minutes increase

Mike Woodson said Iman Shumpert, who's making his season debut at the Garden on Monday, will be able to play a few more minutes against the Nets.

In his return from knee surgery, Shumpert played 15 minutes overall in three- to four-minute spurts Thursday against the Pistons. He is now able to play 20 minutes and in five-minute spurts. He will start at shooting guard, alongside Jason Kidd, Chris Copeland, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.

Shumpert's defensive assignment? Joe Johnson.

Looking ahead, Woodson feels comfortable matching Shumpert against any team's best opposing player, except for its center.

"Like tonight, you've got Deron (Williams) and Joe, so it's pick your poison," the coach said. "Both of them are pretty damn good, so it will be based on personnel. I feel like I can put 'Rook' on anybody -- one through four -- we're playing."

Woodson said one thing that separates Shumpert from other young players in the NBA is his work ethic.

"The thing that I've learned in coaching young guys, they don't understand the dynamics of playing hard in practice as well as in the ball games," Woodosn said. "He's already past that point. He's so way ahead of that, it's not even funny."

ON PLAYING ON MLK DAY: Woodson said, "It's great our sport and it's great for our fans to be able to witness a game on such an important day."

He said it was "a little strange" the Knicks and Nets will be concluding their four-game series in the regular season so soon, "but that's the schedule."

RAY OF HOPE? Woodson said he's not sure if Raymond Felton will take contact before the Knicks face the Celtics on Jan. 24, but he said the starting point guard is progressing well in his recovery from a broken finger.

"He's now eager and anxious to get back out on the floor," Woodson said. "It's going to be up to the doctors. I don't know if he'll have another X-ray or what. He's coming along slowly and he's on schedule."

BEHIND ENEMY LINES: Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo had this interesting scouting report on trying to contain Anthony:

"Just try and work him, and have our best defenders on him all the time. Mike's offensive schemes are very good. Carmelo's one of the best players in the league, so he's a handful. ... He's going to get his points, so we've got to make him work a little bit harder. You always like to try to minimize his 3-point field goal attempts and keep him off the free throw line, but it's easier said than done.

"He can shoot it deep, he can put the ball on the floor, he can post you up. ... He handles the ball in pick and rolls a lot more now since Raymond's been out, or he can set the screen in pick-and-rolls. So he's about a versatile player as there is in the league. I'm not saying he doesn't work, but I've always felt for five, seven years, he scores easier than anybody in the league. He is just an effortless scorer."

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