AZUBUIKE EYES RETURN

As he iced the long scar on his left knee an hour before tipoff, Knicks guard and former Tulsa Victory Christian standout Kelenna Azubuike insists he is close to playing for the first time since Nov. 14, 2009, after major surgery on his patella tendon.

It's all about patience, really. I'll be back soon, said Azubuike, who has been on the Knicks' inactive list all season. It's been tough mentally. You've just got to stay with it. I feel myself getting better every day, I have people encouraging me. I'm good.

The undrafted Azubuike joined the league as a free agent out of the NBA Developmental League. He played four seasons at Golden State before being traded to the Knicks last July. He is making $3.364 million and his contract expires after this season.

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